The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which represents the UK regulated betting and gaming industry, has announced that it is updating the safer gambling requirements it requires its members to comply with. These changes will be contained in the Seventh Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising (IGRG Code), building on the existing requirements. The changes follow recommendations in the Gambing White Paper and focus on limiting the exposure of under-18s to betting and gaming marketing content and on increasing safer gambling messaging in the digital sphere. The BGC worked alongside BACTA, the Bingo Association and the Lotteries Council, to formulate these new rules and ensure input from across the industry.
Over recent years, the BGC has introduced a number of measures to promote safer gambling and protect children and vulnerable people. These include:
- the ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on TV gambling advertisements;
- cooling off periods on gaming machines;
- encouraging deposit limits;
- new ID and age verification checks; and
- significantly increasing funding for research, education and treatment.
The Gambling Commission consider compliance with the IGRG Code when deciding whether to take enforcement action against an operator. In the Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, Ordinary Code provision 5.1.8 states that "Licensees should also follow any relevant industry code of practice on advertising, notably the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising".
Changes to the IGRG Code
The seventh edition of the IGRG Code introduces two changes to improve industry marketing and safer messaging to protect vulnerable consumers.
First, in 2020 the BCG committed that its members would devote 20% of TV and radio advertising to safer gambling messaging. Under the new code, this will be extended to apply to digital media advertising.
Second, the sixth edition of the IGRG Code introduced the requirement for all sponsored or paid-for social media betting and gaming marketing content to be targeted at consumers aged 25 and over, unless the operator can verifiably prove its advertisements can be strictly targeted at over 18s. Under the new edition of the code, this requirement will be extended to all digital media platforms who provide “an appropriate age filter”. The BGC currently lists Facebook and Snapchat as platforms that are allowed to be used for 18+ targeting rather than 25+, after the platforms provided evidence of the accuracy of their targeting.
Relationship with the Gambling White Paper
The latest changes to the IGRG Code follow the Gambling White Paper which was published in April 2023.
The White Paper clearly indicates the Government’s desire for operators to use available technology to extend commitments to de-targeting children and vulnerable people and age-gating social media. It confirmed that there would be a review of the IGRG Code which would consider “the extent to which 25+ age filtering could be used with regards to other digital advertising where that functionality is made available”.
The White Paper also states that the IGRG Code would be updated to extend the BGC’s existing commitment of at least 20% of TV and radio advertising space being safer gambling focused to all advertising space across online and broadcast media.
You can find a more in-depth look at the Gambling White Paper, and follow the progress of the various reforms, in our Gambling Law Reform Tracker, accessible here.
The Seventh Edition of the IGRG Code will replace the previous edition and is due to come into effect from 1 December 2023.
Co-authored by James Leek