Gambling Commission Hail Whistle-to-Whistle TV Advert Ban

Gambling Commission Hail Whistle-to-Whistle TV Advert Ban

Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur believes the decision to implement a voluntary ban on gambling advertisements during pre-watershed (9pm) live sports broadcasts proves the industry is taking significant steps to address public concerns.

Following unconfirmed reports of an agreement to introduce a ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban earlier in December, the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) has now confirmed that the decision has indeed been made and will come into effect in July 2019.

As reported by in November, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) – who tackle social responsibility within the betting and gaming industry and whose members include representatives of top bookmakers – have been holding ongoing talks over the proposal.

The finalised proposals have now been confirmed and the new measures will also apply to highlights programmes and re-runs which are aired before the 9pm threshold in the UK, although horse and greyhound racing broadcasts will be exempt from the changes.

For live sports events that run beyond the watershed cut-off point, such as 8pm kick-offs in the Champions League, gambling advertisements will not be permitted until at least five minutes after the game has finished.

Furthermore, sports related programmes aired before 9pm will not be permitted sponsorship by bookmakers as the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising receives a shake-up in the new year.

‘Significant Step’ For Gambling Industry

Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur hailed the changes and praised the bookmakers involved in the voluntary decision-making amid growing public concerns over the amount of betting advertisements to have emerged in recent years.

"Today's announcement is a significant step forward in demonstrating that this is an industry that is starting to listen to its customers and the wider public," he said.

"Importantly, it also demonstrates the value of collaborating across companies and across sectors to make gambling fairer and safer. I hope that this can be used as a model for future industry action to reduce and prevent harm.”

John Hagan, chair of the IGRG, who confirmed the details in a press release on Thursday, echoed the Gambling Commission’s views as the industry takes a significant step towards safer gambling.

He said: "We believe that these new voluntary TV measures, which have been approved by the trade associations representing every sector of the gambling industry, will drastically reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television and they complement the strict controls that already govern gambling companies around advertising on digital platforms.

"We believe that this is itself a watershed moment as we strive to provide the ever, safer gambling environment which gambling consumers and the wider public expect, and which is so important to the future success and sustainability of our industry.

"Today the gambling industry is responding positively to public concerns about the amount of gambling advertising on television before the watershed."

Have Your Say on Gambling Industry

Meanwhile, the Gambling Commission wants members of the public, both those who gamble and those who don’t, to voice their opinions on the industry to help them shape a new national strategy to reduce gambling harms.

The existing National Responsible Gambling Strategy ends in March 2019 and the revised version can be influenced by the public’s views on five proposed priority areas for action over the life of the strategy.

The five areas include research to inform action, prevention, treatment, evaluation and gambling business – but contributors are not obliged to answer all questions, merely the areas that matter most to them.

“We are particularly interested in the views of consumers and those who have lived experience of gambling harms,” say the Commission.

Those interested in taking part can fill out the survey here before February 15, 2019.

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