Author

Debbie Heywood

Senior professional support lawyer

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Author

Debbie Heywood

Senior professional support lawyer

Read More

14 March 2019

Measures to protect children from online gambling harm

New rules for eGaming operators.

What's the issue?

There has been a lot of concern about the level of gambling advertising either targeted at children or accessible to children on apps and on TV due to liberalisation of the market, new online platforms and cross-media advertising.

In December 2018, online gambling businesses agreed to a voluntary 'whistle to whistle' ban on advertising during live sports events broadcast before (or starting before) the TV watershed of 9pm. Regulators are also requiring eGaming businesses to step up efforts to protect children from online gambling harm.

What's the development?

eGaming operators need to be aware of a number of recent developments:

New rules on age verification procedures for online gambling operators

The Gambling Commission has issued new rules for remote gambling operators which will apply from 7 May 2019. Holders of remote online gambling licences will need to:

  • Complete age verification before a customer can deposit or gamble online and before they can access any free-to-play versions of a game. This will replace the current 72 hour timeframe.
  • Obtain customer details and verify their basic identity before allowing them to gamble.
  • Inform customers of the types of identification they are going to need to supply before they can deposit funds.

Additional CAP guidance on gambling ads and children

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP and BCAP) have published enhanced guidance for gambling operators on the placement of adverts and use of social media tools and data when targeting gambling adverts.

The revised guidance:

  • Builds on existing guidance on targeted advertising across all media.
  • Requires that gambling adverts are not placed in media for children or young people, or in media where children or young people make up more than 25% of the audience.
  • Marketers to take all reasonable steps to use available data to include or exclude individuals on the basis of their age or other relevant criteria.
  • Prohibits targeting of under 18s or individuals who, due to their online behaviour are likely to be under 18, with gambling adverts.
  • Requires operators to show they have made full use of available tools to help them comply.
  • Confirms that gambling adverts must not be likely to have particular appeal to children, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture – cartoons, fairy tales, celebrities and sports personalities likely to appeal to children or who are or appear to be under 25 should not be used.

ASA ruling on age-restricted ads

The ASA has ruled against eGaming operator Tombola, holding that its adverts placed on the 'I'm a Celebrity get me out of here' app breached the CAP Code's prohibition on targeting gambling adverts at under 18s. The ASA found that:

  • There was nothing in the design which suggested the adverts were directed at under 18s.
  • Data showed the programme did not have a particular appeal to under 18s.

Nonetheless, the ASA concluded that some under 18s would have downloaded the app and because there was no mechanism through which age-restricted adverts could be targeted only to the appropriate age group, it should not have been used to deliver gambling adverts.

This ruling potentially goes beyond the scope of CAP guidance on children and age-restricted adverts as it suggests an age-restricted advert should not be placed unless it can be directed away from an under 18 audience. The CAP guidance requires that marketers should be able to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to exclude a relevant audience.

What does this mean for you?

eGaming operators need to be careful to comply with the new guidance and age verification rules when they come into effect if not before.

App providers also need to think carefully about the kind of advertising they allow. In some cases, for example, with user generated content, they will need to tread carefully to ensure they do not assume liability. See our recent article for more.

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