Updated advertising guidance on responsible and problem gambling published

England and Wales

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) have published a newly updated version of their guidance on responsible and problem gambling.

The guidance - ‘Gambling advertising: responsibility and problem gambling’ – was first published in April 2018 and is intended to assist with the interpretation of the rules in respect of gambling advertising set out in section 16 of the CAP Code and section 17 of the BCAP Code.

The new version of the guidance, which came into force on 1 November 2021, implements changes that CAP and BCAP proposed earlier this year as part of their consultation in response to the findings of the GambleAware Final Synthesis Report published in 2020.

Updates have been made to the sections of the guidance dealing with: (i) erroneous perceptions of risk and control (section 4.2); (ii) impulsiveness and urgency (section 4.3); (iii) trivialization (section 4.4.); and (iv) financial concerns (section 6.2).

Erroneous perceptions of risk and control

The following have been added to section 4.2 as examples of advertising that are likely to encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible and could lead to financial, social or emotional harm:

  1. Complex bets: Ads that present complex bets or other gambling products in a way that emphasises the skill, knowledge or intelligence involved.
  2. Community spirit: Ads that present gambling as a way of participating in a community based on skill.
  3. Gambling offers: Ads that state or imply that offers (such as those involving money back, free bets and enhanced odds) can reduce risk.

Impulsiveness and urgency

The guidance provides that in order not to encourage gambling behaviour that is irresponsible, marketing communications should not unduly pressure the audience to gamble. The newly updated version now includes adverts that place emphasis on the immediacy of an event and time limited offers emphasising the need to participate before the odds change, as examples that are likely to fall foul of these requirements.


The use of humour or light-heartedness to play down the risks of gambling and unrealistic portrayals of winners (for example, characters winning first time or easily) are now included as examples of approaches that trivialize gambling at section 4.2 of the guidance.

Financial concerns

Section 6.2 of the guidance has been updated to provide that marketers should exercise additional caution when depicting groups that are likely to experience financial pressures, giving the example of students in this regard. This section now also states that marketers should exercise caution when depicting winners (avoiding the implication that a character has won easily) and in respect of any approaches that might take advantage of people’s hopes of winning or replicating the success depicted.

What does this mean for gambling operators and advertisers?

Whilst the updates to the guidance do not introduce any new prohibitions as such, they do demonstrate the approach that the ASA is likely to take in enforcing the CAP and BCAP Codes, which operators are required to comply with as a condition of their Gambling Commission licences. From the regulator’s perspective, the line between ‘rules’ and ‘guidance’ is often blurred. Operators would, therefore, be wise to consider the guidance in line with the codes, when planning and creating advertising content.

Co-authored by Jessica Wilkinson