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Gambling adverts to be banned from child-friendly sites and games

Many children gamble via new technologies. Credit: PA

Gambling adverts will soon no longer be allowed to appear on websites or in games that are popular with children, under new rules designed to stop irresponsible gambling.

The new standards drawn up by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) are designed to stop firms "playing at the margins" of rules and prohibit online gambling ads being targeted at people who are under 18.

The new rules also mean that popular figures will no longer be able to appear in adverts likely to be seen by those underage including:

  • Sportspeople
  • Celebrities
  • Animated, film or TV characters under 25 or those likely to appeal to a younger demographic

The standards add to existing guidance on the responsible targeting of ads to cover all media including social networks and other online platforms.

New measures are being put in place from April 1 to help protect those under 18 from seeing gambling adverts. Credit: PA

What measures are being introduced?

  • Gambling operators must use all tools available on a social network platform to prevent targeting their ads at under-18s.
  • They must avoid placing their ads on parts of websites of particular appeal to under-18s, such as a football club’s website pages dedicated to younger supporters.
  • Firms who use influencers to promote their products or brands should ensure under-18s are not likely to comprise more than 25% of the audience.

The new standards follow a review of the evidence on advertising’s impact on under-18s and rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Which adverts have the ASA banned already?

The ASA’s rulings have banned three Coral Interactive ads found likely to be of particular appeal to children.

  • animated images of a rainbow
  • a pot of gold and a leprechaun
  • fish swimming in the ocean and a wizard
The new rules mean that popular figures will no longer be able to appear in adverts likely to be seen by those underage. Credit: PA

A William Hill Vegas ad appearing within the app New MarioKart 8 Trick was banned for not being appropriately targeted away from children.

The gambling website m88.com was banned for advertising three "Fairytale" games for appealing to children all of which were banned for appealing to children.

  • Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood - for showing an animated image of a wolf and a pixie
  • Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel - for showing an animated image of a forest
  • Fairies Forest - for showing an animated image of a fairy in a forest

CAP said that while the advertising rules did not need to change, the new standards, which come into force on April 1, would strengthen how they apply in practice.

CAP director Shahriar Coupal said: "Playing at the margins of regulatory compliance is a gamble at the best of times, but for gambling advertisers it’s particularly ill-advised, especially when the welfare of children is at stake.

"Our new standards respond to the latest evidence and lessons from ASA rulings, and require that greater care is taken in the placement and content of gambling ads to ensure they are not inadvertently targeted at under-18s."