Raising Standards for Consumers - Enforcement report 2018 to 2019
During the year, our compliance and enforcement activity on this topic has resulted in standards improving, although operators still need to do more to ensure that their marketing communications are transparent and socially responsible.
LCCP requires operators to undertake marketing of gambling products in a socially responsible way and abide by any relevant provision of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) code (the UK Advertising Codes). We are concerned that some operators continue to advertise in a non-compliant manner which has led us to take enforcement action against an operator for misleading marketing practices.
We have worked closely with our regulatory partners, such as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) (opens in new tab) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) (opens in new tab) to ensure marketing promotions do not mislead consumers. In 2018, the CMA published the outcome of its enforcement action against several operators in relation to online promotions. This highlighted that operators could be breaking consumer law when advertisements of bonus promotion fail to include prominently significant conditions and when related terms and conditions are unclear. We made it clear that we expect all operators to act to ensure their marketing material complies with the principles set out by the CMA, and undertook compliance activity to test how these changes were being made.
In October 2018, we introduced changes to LCCP to strengthen requirements in key areas. We elevated compliance with the UK Advertising Codes to a social responsibility code, meaning that operators that breached any aspect of the Codes could be subject to the full range of our regulatory powers, including financial penalties. We made clear in our requirements that the marketing of offers is transparent and does not mislead consumers, and added a new requirement to ensure that operators do not send direct electronic marketing without consent from consumers. We also introduced changes to clarify our position that operators are responsible for the actions of their third parties, including marketing affiliates.
We have concerns that operators are not taking sufficient care with the imagery and words used in adverts for gambling products to ensure that they are not likely to appeal to children. In collaboration with the ASA, we highlighted to operators and UK professional football leagues that they must make sure gambling adverts or sponsorship links do not appear on football website pages that are targeted at children. For example, the junior sections of the club’s website.
We urge operators to have regard to the recently published ASA/CAP guidance to ensure marketing campaigns are socially responsible and to better understand how the rules apply in practice:
- guidance on protecting problem gamblers and on free bets and bonuses with a particular focus on the ‘tone’ of adverts (opens in a new tab)
- new guidance on children and gambling (opens in a new tab).
Last updated: 2 September 2021
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