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Advertising and marketing rules and regulations

There are certain regulations you must follow to ensure your marketing and advertising is socially responsible.

Published: 17 May 2021

Last updated: 13 April 2022

This version was printed or saved on: 20 May 2024

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/licensees-and-businesses/guide/advertising-marketing-rules-and-regulations


The following code is relevant to this section:

LCCP: Social responsibility code 5.1.6 (Compliance with advertising codes)

Operators should refer to LCCP provision 5 (Marketing) for the full set of code provisions relevant to marketing and advertising.

The advertising of gambling products and services must be undertaken in a socially responsible manner and you must comply with the UK Advertising Codes issued by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

For media not explicitly covered you should apply the principles included in these codes of practice as if they were explicitly covered.

You should pay particular attention to the following sections of the Codes:

UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) (opens in a new tab)

UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) (opens in a new tab)

For free and paid-for advice on making your ads compliant with the Codes you can contact CAP’s Copy Advice team (opens in a new tab). Please also be aware that CAP and BCAP have published its Gambling Consultation update (opens in a new tab) which includes newly strengthened guidance on the protection of adult audiences and technical updates to the introductory parts of the UK Advertising Codes’ gambling section.

Gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising

You should comply with the Gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising (opens in a new tab) which is administered by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG).

This code is designed to supplement the CAP and BCAP codes by providing minimum industry standards in a limited number of related areas.

Gambling and lotteries ads of strong appeal to under 18s

The CAP Code requires that marketing communications for gambling must not be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture, particularly if they are generally available to view by them ('freely accessible'). Read more about how the ASA views this type of content (opens in a new tab).

You need to take care with the use of imagery, wording and characters used in marketing communications. Ads must not include a person or character whose example is likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who has a strong appeal to those aged under 18, such as sports people and celebrities.

To support your compliance with the advertising rules, CAP’s guidance, Gambling and lotteries advertising: protecting under-18s (opens in a new tab), was released in April 2022.

Advertising and sponsorship in sport

When agreeing commercial deals with sports clubs, we expect you to ensure that all parties are aware of, and compliant with, the relevant advertising and sponsorship rules and regulations.

These rules and regulations include:

In particular, the following codes should be adhered to

The UK Advertising Codes contain strict rules on the content, targeting and placement of gambling adverts. For example, licensees should ensure that their brand is not being promoted via the junior sections of clubs’ websites.

The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising requires that licensees do not allow their logos or other promotional material to appear on any commercial merchandising, (for example replica shirts), which is designed for use by children.

The European Sponsorship Association and the Football Association require that in the case of teams comprising players all under the age of 18, that gambling logos do not appear on any item of kit or clothing.

Young people in marketing material

For the purposes of these rules, children are those who are 15 and under, and young persons are people of 16 or 17.

As a general rule, marketing communications for gambling must not include a child or a young person. No one who is, or seems to be, under 25 years old may be featured gambling or playing a significant role.

Individuals who are, or seem to be under 25 years old (18-24 years old) may be featured playing a significant role only in marketing communications that appear in a place where a bet can be placed directly through a transactional facility; for instance, a gambling operator’s premises or own website.

In all other instances, including social media, under 25s must not feature.

CAP has published the outcome of a consultation on a proposal to amend the Gambling section of the CAP Code. CAP Gambling Consultation Regulatory Statement: Betting websites featuring individuals under the age of 25 (opens in a new tab).

Open and transparent marketing

You must ensure that your marketing communications do not mislead consumers.

All significant terms and conditions which are likely to affect a consumer’s understanding of a marketing promotion must be prominently displayed within the advertisement and positioned close to the headline offer on all relevant landing webpages and sign-up webpages (or equivalent) for that promotion, unless the advertisement is so small that it is impossible to do so.

Significant conditions must be clear, timely, intelligible, unambiguous, non-misleading and transparent. The terms and conditions of each marketing incentive must be made available for the full duration of the promotion.

If the significant conditions are not displayed with sufficient prominence, the ad will be seen as misleading.

We encourage you to refer to CAP's guidance on Gambling ads: free bets and bonuses (opens in a new tab) and and to the Competition and Markets Authority principles (opens in a new tab) to ensure that all significant terms and conditions relating to promotions are presented in an accessible, clear and transparent way.

Unless expressly permitted by law consumers must not be contacted with direct electronic marketing without their informed and specific consent.

Whenever a consumer is contacted they must be provided with an opportunity to withdraw consent. If consent is withdrawn then you must, as soon as practicable, ensure the consumer is not contacted with electronic marketing unless the consumer consents again, and you must be able to provide evidence which shows that consent.

LCCP 5.1.11 broadly reflects the relevant requirements of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which are enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Relevant guidance can be found on the ICO’s website (opens in a new tab):

Responsible placement of digital adverts

The following code is relevant to this section:

LCCP: Licence condition 16.1.1 (Responsible placement of digital adverts)

You must ensure that you do not place digital advertisements on websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content and must take all reasonable steps to ensure that third parties with whom you contract do similar.

The Infringing Website List (IWL) (opens in new tab), owned by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), is an online portal containing an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites. The aim of the IWL is that advertisers, agencies and other intermediaries can voluntarily decide to stop advert placement on these illegal websites.

We'd encourage you to to sign up to access the IWL. For more information and to request access, email: PIPCUIWL@cityoflondon.pnn.police.uk

Sponsorship of British sporting clubs by gambling operators

A number of British sports clubs have sponsorship deals with gambling operators. Sports sponsorship falls within the definition of advertising in Section 327(2)(a) of the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in a new tab). Such sponsorship deals must comply with the gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising including with regard to the branding of children’s replica kits.

The gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising (the industry code) covers this issue and states at paragraph 33 that:

The advertising of adult-only gambling products or product suppliers should never be targeted at children. This applies equally to sponsorship and this code requires that gambling operators will not allow their logos or other promotional material to appear on any commercial merchandising which is designed for use by children.

A clear example of this would be the use of logos on children’s sports shirts which in future would not be permitted under the terms of this code. Children’s shirts and other merchandise will be defined as those that do not attract VAT.