Advertising and marketing – recent developments

by Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate

In light of today’s release of new advertising guidance by CAP, the Commission’s ruling against Bwin and the recently published undertakings to the CMA, we thought it would be helpful to summarise the key requirements and changes which operators need to be making to their marketing, and the deadlines for compliance.

New CAP Guidance

CAP has today released two new guidance documents: Gambling advertising: responsibility and problem gambling and Guidance for Advertisers of Free Bets and Bonuses. Some points in these documents serve to formalise the position already set out in ASA rulings, but other provisions represent a new stance.

Responsibility and problem gambling:

This document provides guidance and interpretation of the CAP and BCAP codes. Some key points to be aware of are that adverts should not:

– give false perceptions of the level of risk involved,
– include unjustifiable urgent calls to action, such as “Bet Now!” in adverts, as these are likely to pressure consumers into participating. Reminding consumers about time-limited promotions due to expire is, however, likely to be acceptable,
– trivialise gambling, for example by encouraging repetitive / frequent participation or overspending,
– portray people gambling alone at inappropriate time or in inappropriate environments,
– portray people displaying problem gambling behaviour such as mood swings or secretiveness,
– unduly play on fears of financial pressures or emphasise financial motivations for gambling,
– portray characters who are treated with admiration by others as a result of gambling, or show a transformation caused by participation in gambling.

Deadline – comes into force on 2 April 2018

Free bets and bonuses:

Key points from this document include:

– significant conditions must be prominently displayed with the advert, other terms no more than one click away. Regardless of the media used and space limitations, if a term is likely to alter a consumer’s understanding of the headline it should be stated clearly,
– money back offers must be in cash rather than free bets or bonuses,
– where the phrase “risk free” is used, this must mean there is no loss to the consumer,
– for matched bets, any limitation on stake must be treated as a significant condition and set out in promotional material.

Deadline – comes into force today

ElectraWorks Limited (Bwin) licence review

This licence review followed an ASA ruling against the company in August 2016, for failing to display significant conditions in an advert. The Commission continued to discover adverts by this operator which did not include significant conditions after this ruling, despite repeated engagement. Coupled with its discovery that the person responsible for marketing did not hold a PML, the Commission reviewed the operating licence and levied a fine of £350,000.

This ruling emphasises that the Commission is now taking a tougher stance on repeated failings to include significant conditions in adverts.

Deadline – operators should already be complying

CMA – operator undertakings

The undertakings given by Ladbrokes, PT Entertainment and William Hill are the same, with the exception of an additional item on opting-in to promotions for William Hill. Without repeating the full list of undertakings, they relate to:

– providing significant conditions in adverts and making full T&Cs accessible,
– clearly setting out prohibited types of play, separately to terms relating to fraud, collusion etc.,
– separating deposited funds and bonus funds and allowing deposited funds to be withdrawn,
– keeping customers informed about restricted funds, play and account restrictions,
– not obliging customers to take part in publicity,
– not enrolling customers in promotion without their express and informed consent.

Deadline – 28 February 2018 for all undertakings except 3 (restricted funds) for which the deadline is 31 July 2018.

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