he Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) has confirmed that a ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on TV betting adverts around pre-watershed live sport will come into force next year.
The ban will see no advertisements for gambling companies shown from five minutes before a sporting event is broadcast until five minutes after it finishes.
This will be supported by additional measures including an end to betting adverts being broadcast around highlight shows and re-runs, while bookmakers will also cease sponsoring sports programmes shown before the 9PM watershed.
Exceptions will be made for horse and greyhound programmes, which are seen as more reliant on betting than other forms of televised sport.
The measures will be added to the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising in January next year, with the intention to enforce the ban six months later.
"Today the gambling industry is responding positively to public concerns about the amount of gambling advertising on television before the watershed,” IGRG chair John Hagan explained. “We are announcing a ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on gambling advertising during all televised live sport before the watershed, with the exception of horseracing and greyhound racing.
“We believe that these new voluntary TV measures, which have been approved by the trade associations representing every sector of the gambling industry, will drastically reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television and they complement the strict controls that already govern gambling companies around advertising on digital platforms,” Hagan continued. “We believe that this is itself a watershed moment as we strive to provide the ever, safer gambling environment which gambling consumers and the wider public expect, and which is so important to the future success and sustainability of our industry.”
The move comes after a week of speculation, with news of the ban - which was first discussed earlier last month - first revealed by the BBC amid growing pressure on the industry to amend its advertising strategies.
The move was welcomed by State Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright.
“Gambling firms banning advertising on TV during live sport is a welcome move and I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns,” Wright said. “It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”
UK Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur described the announcement as a significant step towards showing that the betting industry was mindful of customer concerns.
“Importantly, it also demonstrates the value of collaborating across companies and across sectors to make gambling fairer and safer. I hope that this can be used as a model for future industry action to reduce and prevent harm.”
The code already prohibits online casino advertising before the 9PM watershed, and blocks gambling brands from appearing on any childrens’ sporting merchandise. It also mandates that all advertising must carry responsible gambling messaging.