BGC members suspend TV and radio advertising during lockdown

Members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) will voluntarily remove all TV and radio product advertising during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The announcement is the latest in the series of new measures introduced by BGC members to ensure that punters are protected during the current pandemic, despite a drop in advertising spend in addition to a 10% drop in the volume of TV sport and casino advertisements.

BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “From day one of this crisis we have sought to protect customers potentially at risk, including announcing stepping up safer gambling measures as part of our ten pledges for covid-19 in March. 

“This latest move by the regulated industry further underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming with many people cut off and feeling anxious.

“We have been working closely with our member companies since this crisis began to monitor the impact of betting and gaming. There hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online as some had predicted – in fact, the opposite is true with total revenue down by up to 60 per cent. 

“Overall gambling levels have also fallen significantly as a result of betting shops and casinos closing and the suspension of live sport. And whilst advertising levels on sports and casino are also down, again contrary to some assertions, we recognise that removing product advertising will act as a further safeguard during covid-19.”

Direct marketing has also significantly dropped, while BGC members have also ramped up the visibility of safer gambling tools. Existing TV and radio advertising slots will be replaced by safer gambling messages, donated to charities or removed from broadcast where contracts permit.

The decision, which will be reviewed once current lockdown measures are relaxed, is due to be implemented ‘no later than Thursday 7th May’. The commitment will remain in force for six weeks until at least 5th June. 

Dugher continued: “This major announcement by our members will result in the removal of half of all product advertising on TV and radio. I hope now that other major gambling operators like the National Lottery follow our lead. 

“Throughout this crisis, as the new standards body, the BGC has worked very closely with the Government. Ministers and the regulator all deserve credit for their steadfast and consistent determination to have an evidence-led approach and to rightly call for higher standards. 

“There will always be alarmist noises from anti-gambling prohibitionists who just want to grab headlines, but it is this serious, constructive and evidence-led approach by the BGC’s regulated members that has resulted in this further major change.

“We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers potentially at risk during this lockdown period and beyond – and we are determined to drive the high standards that the public expect from us. I hope others follow our lead.” 

The impact of advertising is due to be discussed on Day 5 of SBC’s Digital Summit. With global business communities in the grip of the COVID-19 crisis, the Summit was created as a platform for the industry to connect and share knowledge amid critical and unprecedented conditions.

The SBC Digital Summit runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020 and features seven conference tracks, a virtual exhibition and virtual networking lounges, attracting an estimated 10,000 delegates logging in from around the world.

There is still time to register for the event, with company discounts available: https://sbcevents.com/sbc-digital-summit/tickets/

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