Britain’s Betting & Gaming Council To Introduce New Social Media Rules
February 17, 2021
In December last year the UK Culture Secretary, Oliver Downden, launched a major review of the gambling industry. Increasing concerns about the impacts of problem gambling, lack of on-line regulation and access to gambling advertising by children have highlighted the need for change. The Gambling Act 2005 is no longer considered fit for purpose in the context of the major technology-driven innovations in the industry and it is expected that new legislation will be introduced.
An extensive range of organisations and individuals are expected to engage with the review which will gather evidence until the end of March. The review will cover the following areas:
- Advertising, sponsorship and branding
- Online protection in terms of products and players
- Land-based gambling
- Redress for consumers
- Age limits and age verification procedures
- The role of the Gambling Commission
The Betting & Gaming Council (BGC), as the representative body for UK bookmakers and the wider gambling industry, is keen to engage in the review and has urged the Government to ensure that the review is “wide-ranging and evidence-led to strike the right balance between protecting the vulnerable, whilst not spoiling the enjoyment of the estimated 30 million people in the UK who enjoy a bet”.
In this context, and mindful of the increased regulation likely to result from the review, it is perhaps no surprise that the Betting & Gaming Council is actively demonstrating its social responsibility by introducing tough new social media rules this month. These new rules are additional to the Code for Socially Responsible Advertising issued last year which was primarily directed at B&GC member organisations.
The new code of conduct provides guidelines regarding gambling social media posts for Premier League and English Football League clubs. The aim is to ensure that the under-18’s are not exposed to gambling-related messages on social media. The BGC recommends that safeguards be placed on social media feeds, with a prohibition of calls to action or links to gambling sites through organic tweets. Additionally the code bans display of direct bonuses or odds on these tweets.
The BGC is also keen that the broader issue of age restrictions on social media are actively and urgently addressed, asking that Facebook and Twitter make more effort in order that gambling adverts are restricted to over-18s. This laudable objective would require a more concerted effort from the American behemoths than currently displayed, and governmental interventions on an international basis may be the only way forward to achieve it.
The wheels of government tend to turn slowly and the gambling industry is unlikely to see new legislation resulting from the review until 2022 at the earliest. The industry generates approximately £3billion annually for the government coffers and employs 100,000 people so its future success is important for the UK economy. The Betting & Gaming Council are keen that any new legislation introduced supports the development of the gambling industry; if too punitive, the risk is that gambling activity will move to unregulated forums and the aims of the current review cannot be met.