No wonder the laws in relation to online betting and gaming services are due to be reformed in 2007. The current position is at best a muddle, but we offer some pointers to compliance when promoting these services in the UK
Who: The Gaming Board and those wishing to promote betting in the UK
Where: The UK
When: The run up to the bringing into force of the Gambling Act 2005 in 2007
As Britain's gambling community wrestles with the radical reforms due to be implemented in the UK by way of the 2005 Gambling Act come 2007, confusion still reigns over the current rules in the UK for the advertising of betting and gaming services.
This is hardly surprising; the area is a complete muddle.
In this short piece, we will endeavour to focus on the basics, but before any decision is taken on the launch of any new advertising campaign in the UK in respect of the betting or gaming services, specific advice should be taken.
UK-based internet operators
Currently, services such as fixed odds betting, pools betting and betting exchanges can be offered by a UK based internet operator.
Other online gambling services cannot, however, be offered by UK-based operators. For instance an internet casino or bingo or machine style gaming built for the internet cannot be offered from the UK. However UK residents are perfectly free to participate in such services provided they are accessible over the internet on a server which is located outside the UK.
Advertising online betting services
Although UK residents are perfectly free to use online betting services offered from a server based offshore, offshore bookmakers are not allowed to advertise in any material form in the UK, and this includes Teletext. This follows a case some years ago involving Victor Chandler, when Teletext was confirmed by the court as relevant advertising for these purposes.
Advertising online gaming services
The current position with regard to advertising on-line gaming services is that under the Gaming Act 1968, advertisements for online gaming services may not invite the public to expend money or money's worth for use in gaming.
Guidance from the Gaming Board confirms here that it will be illegal in the UK to publish advertising which offers any incentive to get involved in gaming such as a free stake or two stakes for the price of one.
On the other hand, with care it may be acceptable to simply mention the URL of the relevant website and provide a link and to mention the thrill of gaming on that site and the operator's financial probity. What you cannot do is mention stakes or winnings.
Why this matters:
This snapshot of the current position clearly shows why reform is so urgent and extreme care is still needed when considering advertising for any services in this area, online or offline.