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UK Whistle-To-Whistle Ban on Betting TV Ads Now in Place

Greg Lea for Bookies.com

Greg Lea  | 2 mins

UK Whistle-To-Whistle Ban on Betting TV Ads Now in Place

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August 1, 2019, marks the first day of a new ban on gambling adverts broadcast during live televised sporting events in the UK.

Anyone who has consumed sport on British TV in recent years will know how prominent such adverts had become, so this is a significant move by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRB), a body representing the interests of five key gambling trade associations in the UK.

The decision was taken after widespread criticism during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

An event of the World Cup’s magnitude attracts a wider audience than your average Premier League game or county cricket match, and many people were therefore exposed to the extensive nature of the practice for the first time.

Self-Imposed Ban Underway

As such, from Thursday onwards there will be no gambling adverts shown during live sport which takes place before the 9pm watershed, beginning five minutes before the start of the event and lasting until five minutes after its conclusion.

Highlights and re-runs will not be exempt from the ruling, while bookmaker sponsorship of pre-watershed sports shows has also been outlawed.

The most interesting element of the ban is that it was implemented by the gambling industry itself, rather than an external body.

The sector potentially acted of its own volition before it was ordered to, but this move nevertheless represents an acknowledgement within the industry that gambling companies have a responsibility to protect consumers from the pitfalls of problem gambling, a major social issue in the UK at this moment in time.

Betting-Funded Racing is Exempt

"The intent is the diminution of pre-watershed televised advertising around sport with the exception of horseracing and greyhounds,” said Wes Himes, the chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association.

"We acknowledged the concerns that were raised in various quarters, particularly after the World Cup, and the industry took a proactive, unprompted approach to addressing the issue with the fifth edition of the IGRG code and the whistle-to-whistle ban.”

This act of self-regulation may not be the last of its kind; there is increasing scrutiny on the prominence of gambling firm’s logos on football jerseys, which has ironically been accelerated by Paddy Power’s recent ‘Save our Shirt’ campaign, and there have also been calls for stadium hoardings to be freed from betting promotions.

With the new Premier League season just around the corner and The Ashes underway in London, these advertising restrictions have come at a time when thousands of people are about to spend hours upon hours consuming live sport on television.

It will be interesting to witness the effect the ban has on the gambling industry in the coming months.

About the Author

A London-based soccer specialist, Greg Lea has been featured in The Guardian and ESPN for his coverage of the Premier League, Champions League and World Cup.