UKGC Issues New Warning to Gambling Industry Over Youth-Targeted Advertising

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has strengthened its position on the use of cartoon images and comic book themes in advertising campaigns, which critics argue are being targeted at under-18s.

Headshot of Tim Miller, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs and Research for the UKGC

Tim Miller, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs and Research for the UKGC. ©UKGC.

Together with the Advertising Standards Authority, the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Remote Gambling Association, the UKGC co-published a letter calling for gambling companies, including online casinos, to “amend or remove” several adverts immediately.

This latest warning relates both to adverts on operator websites as well as third-party media currently using ads for play-for-free and play-for-real-money games. Examples of using particular colours, cartoon and comic book images such as ‘Piggy Payout’, ‘Fluffy Favourites’, and ‘Pirate Princess’ were referenced in the joint letter.

The move is a response to an article published in The Sunday Times on the 8th October, which claimed gambling firms were deliberately exploiting flaws in UKGC guidelines to ‘lure kids into gambling’. The article highlighted that many of the games available were playable without registration, and thus were accessible for children.

The UKGC is committed to using our powers and our expertise to play our part in creating a safer internet Tim Miller Executive Director, Corporate Affairs and Research for the UKGC

The letter stated: “Gambling operators are required by the UK Advertising Codes and the conditions of their Gambling Commission licence to advertise responsibly with particular regard to the protection of under-18s and others who are vulnerable to being harmed or exploited by gambling advertising.”

“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.

“If gambling operators cannot or will not bring their advertising into line with the Code, the CAP Compliance team has various sanctions available to it and will consider applying these if we continue to see gambling ads that have particular appeal to under-18s.”

Earlier this year, the UKGC successfully prosecuted two YouTubers who were deemed to be offering illegal gambling to under-age viewers through the FIFA video game. Craig Douglas, who goes by the handle ‘NepentheZ’ online, and Dylan Rigby were fined £265,000 for promoting a social gaming site called FUTGalaxy.

A PDF copy of the full UKGC letter can be found here.

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