Gambling Ads Have a “Limited” Effect on Problem Gambling

As part of a wider process that consolidates the efforts of multiple government and industry agencies, two UK regulatory bodies have determined that gambling advertising only affects young people and problem gamblers in a severely “limited” way.

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The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) are responsible for writing and maintaining gambling codes throughout the United Kingdom. Responding to a request from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the CAP and BCAP compiled a comprehensive report that reviewed all evidence of “harms related to gambling advertising.”

The recently released report found an agreement among prevalent academic literature and key metric data, indicating that present UK advertising codes are sufficiently “protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.” Although gambling advertising has increased significantly since the Gambling Act of 2005, both the CAP and BCAP are satisfied that there is currently no need for new gambling advertising rules or a new approach to how these rules are developed.

After gambling operators were granted far greater freedom to advertise in 2007, many in the private and public spheres predicted a negative impact on various UK communities. However, the CAP/BCAP report divulged that the two principal indicators of gambling-related harm (problem gambling and underage participation) have actually declined since 2007.

This does not mean that the CAP and the BCAP feel that continued regulation is unnecessary. According to CAP director Shahriar Coupal, the agency will remain vigilant for any evidence that shows an increased risk to young people or other vulnerable populations. “We know gambling can be a contentious issue,” said Coupal, “which is why there are strict rules in place to ensure it’s advertised responsibly.”

The CAP has been establishing and updating UK advertising codes since 1961. In response to a dramatic increase in non-broadcast adverting methods, the BCAP evolved out of the CAP in 2003.