Stronger Code… IGRG confirms ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban on TV betting advertising

The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (‘IGRG’) has published its much anticipated new provisions for the Industry’s ‘Code for Socially Responsible Advertising’ (‘the code’) – confirming the implementation of a ‘whistle-to-whistle ban on all TV betting adverts during pre-watershed live sport’.

From next summer, the IGRG will adopt its whistle-to-whistle measure, with bookmakers banning on all TV betting adverts during pre-watershed live sport broadcasts (excluding horse and greyhound racing programming).

The advertising ban is enforced ‘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.

John Hagan -IGRG

Updating all industry stakeholders, John Hagan, Chair of IGRG, said: “Today the gambling industry is responding positively to public concerns about the amount of gambling advertising on television before the watershed.”

“We are announcing a ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on gambling advertising during all televised live sport before the watershed, with the exception of horseracing and greyhound racing. We are also announcing a ban on any gambling advertising during re-runs of sporting events and highlight shows before the watershed.

“We believe that these new voluntary TV measures, which have been approved by the trade associations representing every sector of the gambling industry, will drastically reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television and they complement the strict controls that already govern gambling companies around advertising on digital platforms. We believe that this is itself a watershed moment as we strive to provide the ever, safer gambling environment which gambling consumers and the wider public expect, and which is so important to the future success and sustainability of our industry.”

The IGRG states that the whistle-to-whistle measure will complement and strengthen additional in-bound 2019 restrictions that have been made by UK broadcasters, which include limiting betting adverts during the build-up shows prior to live sport to one advert per break’.

Jeremy Wright – DCMS

Moving forward, the IGRG will re-publish its code on industry-wide advertising standards for 2019, helping the UK Advertising Standards Authority to regulate gambling content with a comprehensive advertising regulatory framework.

The government has backed the development of a stronger code on betting/gambling advertising, with DCMS state secretary Jeremy Wright detailing: “Gambling firms banning advertising on TV during live sport is a welcome move and I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns. It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”

The key whistle-to-whistle measure will be introduced as an IGRG code’s guiding mandate. which further includes the enforced provisions of:

  • Preventing any online casino advertising before the 9.00pm watershed;
  • Stopping gambling sponsorships appearing on any children’s merchandise, including notably on replica football shirts;
  • Requiring all gambling adverts on television to carry a responsible gambling message and/or a reference to begambleaware.org throughout the length of those adverts.
Neil McArthur – UKGC

Backing the whistle-to-whistle ad-ban, Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), said:

“At our annual Raising Standards Conference last month I highlighted the need for the industry to act together in response to public concerns about gambling advertising. Today’s announcement is a significant step forward in demonstrating that this is an industry that is starting to listen to its customers and the wider public.

“Importantly, it also demonstrates the value of collaborating across companies and across sectors to make gambling fairer and safer. I hope that this can be used as a model for future industry action to reduce and prevent harm.”

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