UK regulators crack down on Ads targeting children

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The UK market acts as a magnet for international operators, in spite of the strict gambling laws regulating the industry here. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission only awards licenses to gaming operators who meet their requirements and holds them to the highest security standards. This helps them project an image of honesty, which appeals to local players and international punters. License holders must abide by strict rules, including those regulating the manner in which advertising campaigns are conducted. The UK GC goes to great lengths to protect young and vulnerable players from the risks of gambling addiction.

Ads targeting children under fire

Online casinos, sports books and poker rooms can only accept players who are at least 18 years old. This means that they are highly motivated to create advertising campaigns that appeal to the targeted audience. Even though the vast majority of gambling operators do precisely so, there are some advertisements that could sway younger players to gamble. UK GC has discussed the matter with the Committee of Advertising Practice, the Advertising Standards Authority and the Remote Gambling Association. Their conclusions were formulated in a joint letter that was sense to online gambling operators this month.

The UK media has highlighted the potential dangers of using images that could appeal to underage punters on gambling websites. Children and people under the legal age to gamble could be exposed to the images published by the operators through their advertising campaigns. It all started with the UKGC’s open letter to the Editor of the Sunday Times, which emphasized the risks of online gambling for teenagers and children. It concluded that the best way to protect this demographic group was for the gambling operators and their media partners to swiftly remove these ads.

Which ads are dangerous for children?

Online gambling operators catering to UK players must remove the harmful ads and the Gambling Commission has provided the guidelines. The criteria distinguishing between acceptable and dangerous ads include the use of colors, animals, comic book images and cartoons. Essentially, any campaigns that promote children oriented references should be avoided to mitigate the risks. Many popular online slots such as Fluffy Favourites, Piggy Payout and Jack and the Beanstalk were singled out as too appealing to youngsters. Some of these games are at the cornerstone of welcome bonuses and exclusive campaigns at top casinos.

Casinos should pay attention to the slogans of their campaigns, as well as the manner in which they link their advertising texts to superheroes and iconic characters. Freely accessible advertisements that meet these criteria should immediately be removed or changed by those promoting them. In recent months, the UK GC has toughened its stance towards online gambling operators who were found to be in breach of the regulations. Law-abiding casinos face unique challenges, as they try to make the necessary changes, without causing their advertising campaigns to lose their appeal.

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