CAP announces new restrictions for betting operators

CAP announces new restrictions for betting operators

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Posted by Joseph Streeter
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The CAP has focused on free bets, bonuses and calls to action

British bookmakers will be forced to undertake an overhaul of their marketing strategies after the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) further heightened advertising standards in the UK, placing a specific emphasis on live betting promotions.

Whilst the introduction of fresh CAP regulations won’t restrict advertisers from promoting in-play odds, the regulatory body has emphasised that punters shouldn’t be unduly pressured into gambling, forbidding phrases that imply there is a level of urgency around live betting.

Shahriar Coupal, Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, stated: “We won’t tolerate gambling ads that exploit people’s vulnerabilities or play fast and loose with eye-catching free bet and bonus offers. Our new guidance takes account of the best available evidence to strengthen the protections already in place, ensuring that gambling is presented responsibly, minimising the potential for harm.”

The Remote Gambling Association also commented: “In recent months we have worked constructively with The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and other stakeholders on a range of related issues. This new guidance is the latest reflection of that and we fully support the thrust of the new measures.

“We hope and believe that collectively this and other initiatives will go a long way to addressing many of the concerns that have been expressed about gambling advertising, especially on television.”

The fresh regulations follow on from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Gambling Commission both warning operators to take ‘immediate steps’ to comply with consumer protection law or face enforcement action.

The CMA highlighted that gambling firms must “stop unfair online promotions that trap players’ money", affirming the need for changes across the industry.

There are also a host of other standards being introduced, which have been designed to: Curb trivialisation of gambling (e.g. encouraging repetitive play); Prevent approaches that give an irresponsible perception of the risk or control (e.g. “Risk Free Deposit Bonus”); Provide greater detail on problem gambling behaviours and associated behaviours indicators that should not be portrayed, even indirectly; Prevent undue emphasis on money-motives for gambling and; Provide more detail on vulnerable groups like problem gamblers that marketers need to work to protect.

Failure to comply with standards set by the Gambling Commission can prove immensely costly, something that was highlighted in the recent fine received by online gambling business ElectraWorks, after the Commission ruled the group that runs the operations for had repeatedly been misleading consumers with adverts relating to free bonuses.

The fine followed on from the ASA upholding a complaint against ElectraWorks for the appearance of an advert offering a free bonus on its website. As well as this, merely a week later (24 August 2016) the Commission unearthed another advert on the Bwin website which breached the same code. The advert was later removed by ElectraWorks.

Richard Watson, Commission Programme Director, explained: “This fine should serve a warning to all gambling businesses that we will not hesitate to take action against those who mislead consumers with bonus offers or fail to ensure they are correctly licensed.”

The new set of standards will come into effect on 2 April 2018. CAP’s work on this complements the work the Competition and Markets Authority has done to ensure gambling firms are upfront and clear about their promotional terms and conditions, while also making them fairer.

Totally Gaming says: It’s positive news for operators that promoting live betting odds hasn’t been prohibited. Nonetheless, these CAP regulations may just be the tip of the iceberg for betting operators, with further marketing regulations potentially impending from the government. The fine received by ElectraWorks and the Gambling Commission’s continued commitment to imposing significant punishments will inevitably act as a resounding warning for those breaching advertising regulations.

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