Gambling Ads On Copyright Infringing Websites Falling, Says EU

March 11, 2022
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A study by an EU watchdog appears to show a 55 percent reduction in the number of “major brand” gambling ads appearing on websites known to be infringing on intellectual property.

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A study by an EU watchdog appears to show a 55 percent reduction in the number of “major brand” gambling ads appearing on websites known to be infringing on intellectual property.

A decline in the number of gambling ads occurred despite advertising across all sectors increasing by 26 percent on the same websites, according to the latest figures from the Online Advertising on IPR-Infringing Websites and Apps 2021 study.

In 2019, data seen by VIXIO suggested that although major brands pulled away from IP infringing sites during the first quarter of 2019, the overall number of gambling ads only fell 3 percent after the agreement was signed.

Despite the apparently accelerated progress since then, European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) secretary general Maarten Haijer said more work needs to be done.

“We encourage Europe’s gambling operators, and their advertising affiliates, to play their part by ensuring their advertising, and its placement, is conducted in a responsible way,” Haijer said.

The study was published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and commissioned by White Bullet, which itself was commissioned by the European Commission to track the progress of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) designed "to limit advertising on websites and mobile applications that infringe copyright or disseminate counterfeit goods”.

The MoU was signed by a collection of organisations, including the EGBA.

The monitoring process of the MoU is now in full effect, a spokesperson for the EGBA told VIXIO, following meetings organised by the European Commission, where it discussed best practices with the EGBA, as well as the tools available to help companies address the advertising environment.

“In addition to this, avoiding the placement of ads on IPR-infringing websites has also become part of the wider responsibility efforts of many leading companies (like other initiatives regarding environment, safer gambling, etc.),” according to the EGBA.

Gambling adverts, including major companies’ brands, accounted for 23 percent of all branded advertising on the monitored websites, second only as a sector to arts & entertainment (43 percent), according to the study.

The EUIPO study monitored 5,758 websites, 43 percent of which are classified as illegal and 57 percent as “high-risk”, meaning a judge has not yet made a ruling against them but they are still verified as infringing and popular among EU consumers.

Major brand gambling ads were the top-ranked sector for three countries (Czech Republic, Lithuania and Slovakia). It was also notably the second-ranked sector in France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Slovakia and Sweden.

However, when including all branded advertising, meaning smaller or unlicensed operators, gambling topped the list in Estonia and Spain.

“Unlicensed brands would certainly have been captured in the ad-monitoring in a given country, but it is difficult to assess where unlicensed brands fit within the dataset because the monitoring didn’t check whether the brands were licensed or not in that country,” the EGBA said.

Affiliate monitoring site Mitigatr’s co-founder Astan Morarji recently told VIXIO the number of gambling adverts appearing on websites on the Infringing Website List (IWL) in the UK known to be illegally hosting copyrighted content increased by at least 10 percent from 2021 to 2022.

Morarji said looking at this latest EU study he would certainly assume the majority of the ads in question are from unlicensed operators.

He also questioned whether the report captured the true scale of the problem.

“When the study says ‘placed on websites which infringe’, this is the bit that gets me. The idea of having a permanent IPR infringing list is laughable. The true figure (of ads on infringing sites) is likely to be 5x at the least,” Morarji said.

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