Bookmakers in the United Kingdom will adopt a voluntary ban on TV advertising around daytime sporting events from next year.

The change is expected to be introduced in the summer of 2019 and bans all TV betting adverts during pre-watershed live sport, starting five minutes before the event begins, and ending five minutes after it finishes.

The revised Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, developed by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG), will also end betting adverts around highlight shows and re-runs, as well as pre-watershed bookmaker sponsorship of sports programmes.

Excluded from the changes are advertisements around horse and greyhound racing programmes.

“Today the gambling industry is responding positively to public concerns about the amount of gambling advertising on television before the watershed,” said John Hagan, chair of IGRG.

“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. 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 was welcomed by Jeremy Wright MP, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. “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,” said Wright. “It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, also welcomed the move but warned that the next issue will be online advertising. “This is an important first step in recognising that the proliferation of gambling adverts has got completely out of hand. It was imperative for the industry to accept there is a problem and they have done that today,” he said. “The next step will have to be addressing the gambling adverts that children and vulnerable problem gamblers see online.”


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