Who: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), GambleAware
Where: United Kingdom
When: 23 April 2020
Law stated as at: 16 June 2020
The outbreak of Covid-19 and the need for entertainment at home gives context for the following strong words from the ASA: “[W]e’re warning gambling operators to pay even more attention to their responsibilities under the Codes during these uncertain times…” This was closely followed by CAP publishing a letter to the Gambling Commission, in which they carried out a remit assessment on the basis of GambleAware research on the impact of gambling advertising on social media for children, young people and vulnerable adults. On the same day, the ASA also published an advice note on gambling advertising on social media.
The GambleAware research, Sports and eSports Gambling Advertising on Twitter: Appeal to Children, Young & Vulnerable People, highlights that 6% of followers of traditional gambling accounts are children, a figure which rises to 17% for eSports accounts. Starting with this context, the research goes on to make recommendations to industry, such as using existing age verification tools and integrating more explicit and frequent references to risk, age restrictions and responsible gambling within advertising content.
CAP’s response letter, which looks at the findings in detail, notes the growth in commercial activity in the eSports industry. CAP considers that this creates risk to consumers and that regulators and organisations that work with them need to be confident that there are no gaps in regulation that might undermine the UK’s framework for overseeing advertising of gambling services.
Recognising that eSports gambling is becoming an increasingly complex and global business, CAP’s response helpfully outlines a scenario-based analysis of how compliance should be handled. The scenarios are as follows:
- UK-based eSports betting operators
- Non-UK-based eSports betting operators
- Channel Islands-based and Isle of Man-based operators
- Non-UK-based operators using UK media
- Tipsters and affiliates
CAP’s assessment of the report led to the publication of an advice note specifically relating to eSports gambling advertising. The advice note makes the key observation that the code’s rules that apply to the marketing of eSports gambling are the same as those that apply to traditional marketing on gambling, and encompass social media as well as other non-broadcast media. The advice note goes on to emphasise key areas of compliance for social media marketing compliance, including recognition of marketing, targeting, appealing to under-18s, terms and conditions and the use of affiliates and influencers.
Why this matters:
The heightened engagement of young people with eSports and the increased amount of people experiencing the situational vulnerability of lockdown, has placed gambling advertising compliance on social media platforms at the top of CAP’s watch list. Given the existing interest in the area by GambleAware, this is likely to remain an ongoing priority for CAP, and for enforcement of at the ASA.