Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 1 October 2022
Law stated as at: 10 October 2022
New content restrictions introduced on 1 October 2022 mean that gambling and lottery adverts with “strong” appeal to children and young people are now prohibited.
The revised rules in the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) and UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) set out that marketing communications for gambling and lotteries must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture” and must not “include a person or character whose example is likely to be followed by… or who has a strong appeal to those aged under 18“. Previously the rules required that ads should not be of “particular” appeal to under 18s, meaning that the ASA would consider whether a gambling or lottery advert appealed more strongly to children than it did to adults. Now the new restrictions mean that content (imagery, themes and characters) with “strong” appeal to under 18s is not permitted, irrespective of whether it might appeal more to over 18s.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has released advertising guidance[OC1] for marketers to aid compliance with the new rules. This sets out that content linked to activities popular among young people or which features personalities and characters that have an affinity with, or are likely to influence, young people would satisfy the strong appeal test. Marketers are advised in particular to exercise caution when using videogame-like content or characters because of their popularity with younger audiences.
The advertising guidance also explains that the social media following of sports stars and influencers will be scrutinised as part of the means of assessing their appeal to children. Advertisers will therefore no longer be able to use influencers, topflight footballers and sportspeople with a young following to market their gambling and lottery products. This begs the question who or what will replace them given the propensity of which they are featured in these kinds of promotions.
However, there are some exemptions to the new strict line rules. Where the gambling or lottery product being advertised relates to activities and events that have an inherent strong appeal to under 18s (for example, football or videogaming), the activity and event is exempted from the restrictions provided that the advertiser takes “appropriate steps” to limit the advert’s potential strong appeal to under 18s. This means that references to the underlying activity and event must be limited to:
- Simple text or audio references.
- Generic depictions of the sport or game that is the subject of the gambling product.
- Brand logos or identifiers of the subject of the gambling product.
- The advertiser’s brand logos and identifiers, and lottery prizes and good causes benefitting from lottery funding.
- Certain persons and characters where the ASA assesses that they do not breach the strong appeal rules
Why this matters:
These new restrictions demonstrate CAP strengthening its commitment to safeguarding young people and vulnerable audiences and it is significant that they have been introduced in the build up to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, a sporting event around which gambling operators traditionally spend heavily. In practice, they mean that the personalities, activities and imagery permissible in gambling and lottery ads is now considerably restricted. Advertisers, therefore, need to give stringent consideration as to how they market these products to ensure that they do not have a strong appeal to children, irrespective of the appeal to over 18s. The advertising guidance states that marketers will need to satisfy themselves to a “high degree of confidence” that their ad is unlikely to have a strong appeal to under 18s before it is published and, in the event of any subsequent investigation, the ASA expects to see a detailed assessment as to why the marketer considered that this was the case.