Advertising Standards Authority Chairman Questions Effectiveness of Current Gambling Industry Controls

Lord David Currie, who is soon to assume the role of Chairman of UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), said in a recent interview with The Financial Times that the mid-2000s’ “liberalization” of the nation’s gambling market may have not been the right thing to do.

Lord Currie’s comments come at a time when the UK gambling industry is suffering multiple media blows for its suggested failure to prevent vulnerable people from falling victims to gambling addiction and related issues arising from excessive gambling.

The ASA is a self-governed organization that regulates UK’s advertising industry. Representatives of the nation’s gambling industry, with their massive advertising campaigns, have oftentimes appeared on the regulatory body’s radar screen for failing to comply with its codes and principles.

Most recently, gambling operators Ladbrokes, 888, Sky Betting & Gaming, and Casumo, with some of them being among the UK gambling industry’s largest stakeholders, were scolded by the ASA for not preventing their affiliates from sending them player traffic by means of fake news articles that had “targeted vulnerable people”.

Lord Currie’s Comments

Amid growing concerns about the rapid expansion of UK’s gambling industry and the potential inability for it to be monitored and controlled properly, the incoming ASA Chairman told The Financial Times that the current state of affairs may have been predestined by the implementation of the Gambling Act 2005.

The sweeping reform allowed for the regulated provision of multiple gambling services, including online gaming and betting. It also contained provisions that offered licensed operators expanded opportunities to target customers with massive advertising campaigns on television and other media. Despite certain limitations, gambling advertising on UK television has thrived over the past decade.

Gambling companies have been funneling millions of pounds every year for greater and more eye-catching exposure on various television channels. Here it is important to note that television was a banned territory for those same companies prior to the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005.

According to Lord Currie, the UK gambling industry is not as regulated as it should be and that the ASA, despite its efforts, cannot clean it from violations and violators on its own.

The incoming ASA Chairman further noted that clearer boundaries should be introduced as to what the term “gambling ad” stands for and that, when trying to curb violations of advertising rules, all competent regulators need to make sure that they are adept to the changing and challenging advertising environment.

Lord Currie’s comments also come at a time when the UK Government is entering the final stages of preparation for the expected late-October publication of its triennial review of the nation’s gambling industry. While the report will be primarily focused on the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals, advertising and the potential implementation of stricter rules is also expected to be a part of it.

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