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Gambling advert ban takes effect from start of Ashes 04/08/19
Rob Davies
• No gambling adverts will be shown during live sport televised before 9pm watershed

A ban on gambling adverts during televised sport has come into effect, with the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia becoming the first major UK sporting event in more than a decade subject to the restrictions.

The gambling industry announced the voluntary measure last year, in an apparent effort to address mounting concern about the volume of gambling adverts on television and their impact on children and vulnerable people.

Under the agreement, no gambling ads will be shown during live sport televised before the 9pm watershed for a “whistle to whistle” period beginning five minutes before the start of a match and ending five minutes after.

The curbs exclude horse and greyhound racing, which are seen as intrinsically linked to gambling.

The ban was introduced to coincide with the start of the football season next week but the Ashes, which began on Thursday, is the first major sporting event to be subject to the new regime.

The change will dramatically reduce the number of gambling adverts seen on television, 12 years after the Gambling Act 2005 came into force, permitting online casinos and bookmakers to advertise on television for the first time.

Previously only the National Lottery and bingo companies had been allowed to screen TV adverts.

Speaking when the ban was announced, former culture minister Jeremy Wright said: “It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”

Campaigners pointed out that voluntary curbs on TV advertising do not include football shirt sponsorship or the adverts that run around pitchside hoardings in stadiums, which means gambling firms will still appear prominently during live sport.

James Grimes of charity Gambling With Lives’ Big Step project, which asks football clubs to review their relationship with gambling sponsors said: “Clubs and gambling sponsors should be addressing much more including pitchside advertising, shirt sponsorship and in ground ‘gambling harms’ messaging.

“We know that football fans are within the highest risk group of developing major gambling problems - clubs need to help them. You don’t need to have a bet to enjoy a match.”

Academic studies have indicated that the prevalence of gambling company logos on shirts and hoardings mean that their branding still features heavily even on non-commercial broadcasters such as the BBC.

Half of the Premier League’s shirts will be emblazoned with gambling companies’ logos during the 2019-20 season.

The effect of the TV ad ban will also be limited by the fact that the majority of the gambling industry’s spend has shifted online in recent years.