Increased regulation likely for gambling-related radio ads

There are many concerns in the United Kingdom regarding the problems gambling can cause.

One area that receives criticism is whether there is insufficient regulation of gambling-related advertisements heard on the radio. That’s a situation that may well change in the future.

At present, online casinos and other betting sites need to be regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) if they want to place a radio advertisement. There are still many unlicensed and therefore unregulated sites operating in the UK. You won’t be hearing those being advertised on the radio.

Critics of online casinos are concerned about just when the advertisements can be heard on the radio. They do not want those under the legal gambling age to be hearing them and be attracted to joining them in the future.

The UKGC has made some restrictions on when such advertisements can be aired. Does it work though? When some stations are covering sport they often talk about the betting odds for the games and it’s easy for young fans to hear that information and build an interest in gambling online on both sport and at online casinos.

There are also regulations put in place by the UKGC regarding the content of online casino radio advertisements. They must be “legal, decent, honest and truthful.”

Three years ago, the UKGC carried out a study that looked at how people react to gambling-related advertisements. It found that they have achieved their aim and make betting at online casinos and sportsbooks something the listener might want to partake in.

Just over half of respondents said they heard at least one gambling advertisement a week on their radio. A third of those asked said the gambling advertisements led to them giving a new product or service a try-out.

That UKGC study shows therefore that if there were to be an increasing amount of online casino advertisements, more people could start to gamble or increase their current levels.

Some people don’t see a great deal wrong with such advertisements. They feel that they promote something that can be entertaining. That may be the case but the problem is that gambling isn’t always fun. Some who gamble at online casinos do develop problems and that is where the main problem lies.

2021 saw more evidence produced with data produced about gambling advertisements being broadcast during ‘school run’ hours. It revealed a high level of such advertisements about everything from the lottery to Gala Casino. 5% of all spending on advertisements during school-run hours came from gambling companies.

Millions of children could have heard those advertisements and that may be something legislation will aim at reducing.

Last year saw the Advertising Standards Authority change the rules on who could take part in gambling related advertisements. They placed a ban on sports and reality TV stars who may be seen as role models by those not old enough to gamble.

In 2019, the Conservative Party manifesto for the December General Election promised gambling reform. This led to the UKGC gathering a mass of evidence from all interested parties that was passed onto the Government.

2022 saw a White Paper on gambling reform delivered to Downing Street for final review.

However, it made its arrival in the weeks leading up to the resignation of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. With two more Prime Minister’s since then, the White Paper just keeps on getting delayed but we’re promised it will be published soon.

Reform is important because of the fact that the last Gambling Act was passed 18 years ago. There’s been many changes since then with the arrival of online casinos.

There are more radio stations too of course.

Some of the UK’s newest online casinos face an uncertain future, a representative said. Now isn’t an easy time for online casinos as they wait for the White Paper to be published. They find it hard to set budgets and plan advertising campaigns as they simply don’t know what is going to happen.

An outright ban on radio advertising as has been seen in Belgium is unlikely. Campaigners are keen to see what action will be taken against online casinos and how they advertise their products. Many fear that the reforms simply won’t go far enough.

However, more restrictions on when online casinos can have advertisements aired is a possibility. Broadcasting the odds for a football game being covered on the radio might possibly be allowed in the evening not for daytime fixtures.

2023 promises to be an interesting year for online casinos that wish to advertise on the radio. Change is on the way but just what is planned is yet to be revealed.

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