UK Operators Call For Social Media Support To Help Vulnerable Gamblers

June 7, 2023
Social media companies should help tackle problem gambling by cutting out advertising for vulnerable users, the UK gambling industry has said.


Social media companies should help tackle problem gambling by cutting out advertising for vulnerable users, the UK gambling industry has said.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting & Gaming Council (BCG), said the sector was working on a marketing suppression scheme that would block social media adverts for certain customers.

But he warned the scheme would only be possible to implement with the help of technology companies and urged the government to demand their cooperation.

In a letter to culture secretary Lucy Frazer, seen by VIXIO, Dugher called on the government to convene a meeting with technology firms to discuss minimum standards for its venture.

He said: “I would urge you to help on this matter by calling on social media platforms to finally cooperate with the BGC and make the relevant functionality available, so we can help protect the most vulnerable.

“Our initial engagement with the platforms in 2020 led to the roll out of gambling advertising opt-outs for customers on most of the major platforms. However, since then there has been little progress on our repeated requests for additional improvements.

“We ask that DCMS summon a roundtable discussion with the online platforms, betting and gaming industry and officials to examine these minimum standards in further detail. With your support, BGC members remain ready to enforce these measures once social media platforms make the relevant functionalities available.”

The proposed measures could include social media companies such as Google and Facebook allowing advertisers to control the frequency of ads shown to consumers.

Other proposals include applying 18, 21 and 25-plus age restrictions on certain profiles and pages, and excluding followers of certain social media handles, such as self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP, from targeted ads.

Dugher said the BGC was confident work on this area could form the bedrock of a series of minimum standards for adtech measures and tools on social media platforms, with government oversight.

The measures would build on existing rules that allow users of most social media sites to opt out of gambling advertising and establish a backlist of negative keywords from ads.

Dugher said the BGC had opened a review of the sixth edition of the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, which would include considering the extent to which 25+ age filtering could be used within other digital advertising where that functionality was made available.

The BGC said its existing measures could prevent around 300,000 people registered with GAMSTOP from seeing adverts on social media.

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