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UK Gambling Regulators Ready to Drop the Hammer on Ad Code Violators

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is getting ready to make good on its promise to crack down on gambling operators who violate its advertising code. Late this week the Commission released a series of proposed new standards, and penalties, that could radically reshape the face of UK gambling advertising.

Among the proposals under consideration are some subtle, but significant tweaks the language contained within the standards. For example, under the category of socially responsible marketing activity, regulators have turned the word, “should” into the word “must.” As in, “operators must not create socially irresponsible marketing campaigns that are aimed at minors.”

Another small change that could have major impact, that was pointed out by writers at CalvinAyre.com, concerns the wild world of bonus offers. In the old code, operators were merely required to, “satisfy themselves,” that their bonus weren’t misleading. That freedom, which has been badly abused, would be a thing of the past under the proposed code which states that, “licensees must ensure,” that their offers aren’t misleading.

These minor-but-major changes mean that the days of firing off an off-color tweet or edgy online advertisement could be ending in the UK. For operators like Paddy Power, who have turned edgy marketing into something of an art form, this could cause a real chilling effect. After all, it seems like most UK operators don’t mind a scolding or a slap on the wrist for ads that feature wisecracks that might not play in most workplaces. Those marketing pieces might not find their way to the public sphere if the fines were more significant or if gaming licenses were put in jeapordy.

The new codes have not been approved by gambling commissioners and can be viewed in full at the UKGC website.

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