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Gambling ads to be banned from child-friendly sites and games 13/02/19
Jim Waterson
• New rules also prohibit celebrities who look under-25 from appearing in promotions

Gambling adverts will no longer be allowed to appear on websites or in computer games that are popular with children, under new rules designed to stop irresponsible gambling.

Bookmakers will be required to use every targeting tool possible to ensure online gambling promotions are not seen by under-18s. They will also have to avoid placing gambling adverts on parts of websites that are popular with children, and stop using celebrities or other people who appear to be under 25 in their promotions.

The rules will mean many well-known footballers will not be allowed to feature in gambling adverts because of their age, while bookmakers will also be banned from advertising with social media influencers who are popular with children. More than ever it will pay to do your own research and look at a Casino Guide to locate the best deals.

The changes, which will come into effect from April, are designed to clarify existing standards amid growing concern over the prevalence of gambling promotions in all forms of media. They introduce a blanket requirement for gambling operators to use “all the tools available to them on a social network platform to prevent targeting their ads at under-18s”.

Increasing attention is being paid to the presence of gambling ads in computer games that are popular with children. Earlier this month the advertising watchdog banned gambling ads that appeared in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here app for breaking rules designed to stop under-18s from being encouraged to bet.

The advertising regulator recently banned three Coral Interactive ads for featuring animated images of a rainbow, a pot of gold and a leprechaun, because they were likely to appeal to children. A William Hill advert appearing within the app New MarioKart 8 Trick was also banned for not being appropriately targeted away from children.

Last year, with the threat of regulation looming, the gambling industry confirmed it would press ahead with a voluntary ban on betting adverts during pre-watershed sport programmes from the start of the next football season. However, this voluntary change will not block children from seeing gambling promotions during football matches, due to the prevalence of gambling companies that sponsor team shirts.

The rules were announced by the Committee of Advertising Practice, which writes the UK advertising code. The body has previously banned adverts that depict men and women in gender-stereotypical roles.

“Playing at the margins of regulatory compliance is a gamble at the best of times, but for gambling advertisers it’s particularly ill-advised, especially when the welfare of children is at stake,” said Shahriar Coupal, the CAP’s director. “Our new standards respond to the latest evidence and lessons from Advertising Standards Agency rulings, and require that greater care is taken in the placement and content of gambling ads to ensure they are not inadvertently targeted at under-18s.”

A recent UK study suggested 450,000 11 to 16-year-olds regularly gamble and a Gambling Commission audit found that the number of problem gamblers aged 11 to 16 rose to 55,000 between 2016-2018.