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British online operators were ordered to remove advertising for minors

Online gambling operators licensed in the UK were ordered to clear their websites of any marketing materials, including content that people might like before the age of 18, even if advertising does not involve playing for real money.

British online operators were ordered to remove advertising for minors

On Friday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Committee of Advertising Practices (CAP) and the Remote Association of Gambling (RGA) published a joint letter with recommendations to online gambling operators about “unacceptable” marketing materials.

The letter says that the regulatory organizations made such a step after the publication in the British media, especially the long article in The Times on thematic online slots, with topics such as Peter Pen, Jack and Beanstalk, and other attractive characters for children.

The letter advises operators to “immediately change any advertisements” on their sites or the third-party media that “most likely will attract people aged 18 or younger” and “accesses to free viewing”. This especially applies to “freely available advertisements for a free game” and includes all graphics and images displayed on the site or in the third-party media.

“The use of particular colors, cartoon and comic book images, animals, child and youth-orientated references and names of games such as Piggy Payout, Fluffy Favourites, Pirate Princess and Jack and the Beanstalk are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under-18s,” read the letter.

“We appreciate that there may be difficult and nuanced decisions to be made, particularly in cases where imagery and characters, which might have appeal to both children and adults, is used,” read the letter.

The UK CAP Code clearly states that gambling marketing “must be socially responsible and take into account the need to protect children, young people and other vulnerable persons from harm or exploitation.”

“Ultimately, if you are uncertain about whether an ad might appeal particularly to under-18s, [the Committee of Advertising Practice] advises you to exercise caution and amend or withdraw the ad pending any discussion with the Committee of Advertising Practice copy advice team, especially given the overriding emphasis in the Gambling Act of 2005 and the Committee of Advertising Practice code to protect children and young people from being exploited by gambling,” read the letter.

Operators who are unsure of the acceptability of specific ads are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of the CAP Counseling Commission. Ultimately, if operators prefer to keep questionable advertisements, they run the risk of being penalized by the CAP Compliance team and, of course, UKGC.

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