Voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban comes into force

The industry-wide voluntary ‘whistle-to-whistle’ advertising ban is due to come into force today (1 August 2019), which will see bookmakers ban all TV betting adverts during pre-watershed live sport broadcasts.

The self-enforced ban, will not be applicable to horseracing and greyhound racing coverage, was suggested by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) after it received public and political criticism over the frequency of gambling adverts broadcast during World Cup Russia 2018.

A voluntary enforcement sees all TV betting adverts banned during pre-watershed live sport, starting five minutes before the event begins and ending five minutes after it finishes. 

The IGRG has added further protocols which include an end to betting adverts around highlight shows and re-runs, alongside stopping pre-watershed bookmaker sponsorship of sports programmes. The whistle-to-whistle enforcement will also apply to digital viewing/streaming formats.

Wes Himes

Remote Gambling Association chief executive Wes Himes told The Racing Post: “The intent is the diminution of pre-watershed televised advertising around sport with the exception of horseracing and greyhounds.

“We acknowledged the concerns that were raised in various quarters, particularly after the World Cup, and the industry took a proactive, unprompted approach to addressing the issue with the fifth edition of the IGRG code and the whistle-to-whistle ban.”

Despite the approval from both politicians and wider industry stakeholders, the Paddy Power unsponsorship campaign has reignited a debate as to whether shirt sponsorships should be limited. 

Himes said the industry as a whole would work together to evaluate the whistle-to-whistle ban.

He added: “That doesn’t prevent us from looking at other areas of advertising such as sponsorship, online advertising and so on, as part of our overall approach to responsible and safer gambling and the role that advertising and marketing plays in that debate.

“It’s always under live review and we will look to do more, particularly around digital advertising to close the various anomalies on social media platforms, for instance to ensure that advertising is not going to under-18s or vulnerable people.

“We’re reviewing technology and we’re reviewing our guidance in that area to see if we need to strengthen it.”

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