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IGRG to Introduce Whistle-to-Whistle Ban in January, 2019

Bookmakers have agreed to a voluntary ads restriction measure which will see gambling advertisement pulled out from the pre-watershed live sport broadcasts, starting in the summer of 2019.

A Voluntary Ban After All

The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) has announced that a new measure will restrict the airing of gambling-related advertisement in the pre-watershed period for all sporting events starting next summer onward.

As per the announcement, the measure will be featured in the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, which will provide the legal framework prohibiting the broadcast of sports betting content in the five minutes ahead of a sporting event to five minutes after the event has finished.

In addition, the new measures will also target a re-run of the pre-watershed events as well as focus on marginalizing advertisement done around other top-rated TV programs that drive sufficient interest themselves.

Put simply, the measures will prevent gambling content popping up in the commercial breaks, with the proposed changes becoming a law in January, 2019 and officially coming into effect in June.

We believe that these new voluntary TV measures, which have been approved by the trade associations representing every sector of the gambling industry, will drastically reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television […] – John Hagan

According to IGRG Chair John Hagan, the gambling industry has been responding positively to enacting measures that effectively seek to eradicate gambling harm, with all flagship bookmakers having the customers’ well-being in mind.

Any Reasons for Concern?

Not everyone is entirely convinced about the efficiency of the measures, including Sky CEO Stephen van Rooyen who raised concerns that such actions would not necessarily lead to reduction in the level of gambling harm.

According to Mr. Van Rooyen, a lot of the advertisement today has been re-focused on the online segment, meaning that the majority of bookmakers are no longer interested in TV ads. Only 15% of all gambling advertisement used television as their main medium of distribution.

Mr. Van Rooyen’s concerns have been dismissed by the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), with the organization arguing that all necessary measures have been taken to counteract pernicious advertisement both online and offline.

Mr. Hagan seems to be of the same high opinion about the pending measure, arguing that it’s indeed a “watershed moment” and it will provide a safer gambling environment, protecting customers first and foremost.

The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising has existed since 2007 and it has already achieved important objectives, such as the ban of all online casino advertisement in the pre-watershed period.

According to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, this a clear sign that the industry as a whole is boosting its efforts to ensure the safety of customers. The news was well-received by UKGC executive Neil McArthur, praising the decision of operators to opt out of advertisement.

Mr. McArthur said that with this action, the industry has demonstrated its willingness to listen to regulators and “the wider public”. The fact that bookmakers have been able to agree between themselves was also a positive sign, Mr. Mc Arthur noted.

Heidi Specter

As an avid follower of sports and the newly recognised industry of esports, Heidi uses her expertise to help the team push out the best sports content. She is also continually learning more about the gambling industry in general and pushes out a variety of content.