European Politicians Keep Gambling Ads In Crosshairs

November 26, 2021
​​​​​​​Gambling advertising in Europe remains a hot political topic, even as a long-awaited UK fan-led review of football governance fails to flag the sport’s relationship with gambling as a major issue.


Gambling advertising in Europe remains a hot political topic, even as a long-awaited UK fan-led review of football governance fails to flag the sport’s relationship with gambling as a major issue.

Lawmakers in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK have all recently debated the introduction of stricter gambling advertising rules, including banning gambling ads altogether.

In the UK, with the Gambling Act review ongoing, there has been a renewed focus on gambling advertising's relationship with football in the country, often set against the financial troubles many smaller teams have experienced during the pandemic, but the subject was totally absent from the recent fan-led review.

The chair of the independent review of football governance was MP Tracey Crouch, the ex-gambling minister who lowered fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) stakes to £2 and resigned in protest over a planned implementation delay.

More general changes to gambling ad regulation in the UK continue, however.

On November 1, changes to the Code of Advertising Practice’s (CAP) responsibility and problem gambling guidance came into effect, which drew on insights from its research with charity GambleAware.

The changes mean gambling ads can no longer emphasise the skill, knowledge or intelligence involved in betting, state or imply that offers are a way to reduce risk or present gambling as a way to be part of a community based on skill.

Audrey Ferrie, a lawyer for Pinsent Masons, said the changes reflect “concerns amongst consumers, politicians and regulators around the advertising of gambling products”.

Elsewhere in Europe, reports that the German state of Bremen’s Senator for the Interior Ulrich Mäurer will propose a general ban on sports-betting advertising in Germany at the Conference of Interior Ministers in December have been “emphatically” criticised by the German Sports Betting Association (DSWV).

Mathias Dahms, president of the DSWV, called the proposal “counterproductive” as he fears it could lead to “double standards” that favour licensees in its own jurisdiction in a press release on November 24.

“All holders of a German gaming license — both state and private — have been extensively checked by the authorities for their reliability and performance. This also applies in particular to their advertising concepts. Advertising for illegal providers is prohibited by law, enforcement agencies should focus on enforcing this,” Dahms said.

Germany’s Interstate Treaty on Gambling forbids the advertising of illegal gambling and provides a list of rules with which all gambling adverts must comply, including not advertising online slots, online poker and online casino games on the radio and online between 6am and 9pm.

In the Netherlands, politicians from the Christian Union have made similar calls to tighten online gambling advertising restrictions this week.

Mirjam Bikker, Member of the House of Representatives, received a written response to her question regarding the proliferation of gambling ads during sports events she put forward to the Ministry of Justice and Security.

The ministry said it expected the opening of the market would lead to a “peak in advertising” and it serves the purpose of channelling players to licensed offerings.

As a result, it is “too early to take additional, restrictive measures now”, but advertising will be closely monitored.

The ministry did warn that advertising should never be aimed at vulnerable groups.

Bikker has now tabled another question for the chair of the Justice and Security Budget 2022, Vera Bergkamp, “about the deluge of gambling advertisements” since the launch of the online market on October 1, which has yet to be answered.

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