Gambling Advertising in the Future in the EU

Advertising practices in the gambling industry across Europe have regularly been the focus of discussions about regulation of the market over the past year. Many have called for changes to advertising regulations and in multiple countries across the continent plans are being set into motion that seeks to better control how operators within the industry are allowed to market their services.

The flag of the European Union flying from a flagpole.

The future of the advertising of gambling in Europe was recently discussed by a panel of industry experts in a seminar. The general consensus is that operators should take the initiative when it comes to regulating their advertising habits and the content of adverts should be regulated rather than the quantity of them. ©Capri23auto/Pixabay

Recently, discussions have been occurring between industry professionals about the future of these practices including plans to strictly regulate advertising in Spain that could see the end of sponsorship partnerships between companies and sports teams and strict marketing laws that are being considered in Germany. A panel debate was set up by VIXIO GamblingCompliance that discussed these changes.

One of the main conclusions that were taken from the seminar was that self-regulation needs to play a larger role in advertising in order to prevent governments from being forced to implement harsh restrictions. Self-regulation is being used more and more regularly in certain markets as a tool to regulate advertising.

For example, in certain countries, operators have adopted a voluntary ban on the advertisement of betting services during sporting events that are aired live on TV. Calls for such bans began to gain traction in 2018 and have now been implemented in countries with large online sports betting markets such as Spain. The operators in Spain agreed to implement a similar practice in November of 2019.

The experts who made up the panel came from many different European organizations, such as the European Betting and Gaming Association (EGBA), the UK Advertising Standards Authority and the ETGA. As such, the opinion of such professionals holds great weight and should be taken seriously. All of the panel members agreed on the notion that self-regulation is critical for advertising in the future.

The reason for this consensus is that, in the experts’ opinions, if operators show that they are willing to sacrifice some of their profits to better protect players, they need to make such cutbacks. This will improve the image of many gambling companies in the eyes of people as well as governments and could help to reduce the calls for harsh regulations that are currently being made.

Panel members recommended that operators in European markets needed to display leadership qualities during such times and should take responsibility for their advertising to prevent governments from having to step in and take responsibility from them. It was suggested that operators take notice of and follow the recently published EGBA code that makes suggestions on advertising practice in the industry.

Over Restricting Advertising Could Have an Undesired Effect

There have been many criticisms leveled at governments in countries like Sweden and Germany, that have been accused of ruling with too firm a hand when it comes to advertising restrictions for gambling. Both of these countries have developed a reputation for having strict regulations on the industry and may even be moving in a stricter direction.

Many who work within the gambling industry have stated their belief that companies should have the right to promote their business and that of their affiliate businesses in order to better inform players as to which brand they should choose when it comes to gambling in regulated markets. According to these critics, when operators are denied this right to promote their business, consumers may find it more difficult to safely pick licensed and regulated operators and could, therefore, be endangered as a result.

These unlicensed operators can cause a multitude of problems for consumers and the industry alike. These businesses do not pay taxes or other fees to the governments of the countries that they operate in. This also impacts many of the government-led initiatives that are funded by levies on the industry, such as problem gambling helplines.

On top of this, these companies are also not expected to comply with the restrictions that are imposed on licensed operators in these markets. This means that these companies do not have to invest as much money (if any) on player protection measures that make up licensing agreements for regulated operators. These companies often endanger players as a result.

If restricting the amount of advertising that companies can do is a strategy that is implemented in certain countries, there are legitimate fears of an uptick in unlicensed gambling. Instead of this, a better approach may be to instead analyze and limit the content of the adverts put out by operators.

The panel, therefore, suggested that regulators should take the front seat when it comes to assessing the content of advertising in order to maintain high channeling rates in the industry. This could lead to better results than purely focusing on the sheer amount of advertising.

Meeting Business and Social Responsibility Targets

Nearly all of the companies working in European gambling markets rely heavily on advertising to successfully and sustainably grow their businesses, as is the case in many other industries. With the large number of online gambling companies and an ever-increasingly saturated market, this is becoming truer than ever before. It is clear, however, that growth should not have a harm the social responsibility targets of these operators.

In general, European countries and the European Union itself are placing a far greater emphasis on the sustainable growth of gambling companies. It is no longer acceptable for operators to pour all of their funding into advertising and other ventures designed purely to line their pockets. Now, as a part of many licensing agreements, companies are expected to ensure the safety of the consumers using their services.

This is not to say that the system is perfect at present, however. The panel concluded its discussion by emphasizing the point that operators within European markets will have to work hard to find ways to remain profitable whilst still working proactively to protect players.

An example of a company that is doing this is the Kindred Group. This giant of the gambling industry has drawn up a sustainable business model that is committed to. This model will allow the company to stay profitable whilst still promoting healthy and sustainable habits amongst its customer base.

Other companies are changing the messages that they include in their advertisements. One example of this is the operator Casuomo, which has included messages about responsible gambling habits in its sponsorship messages that are made in partnership with Reading Football Club.

Overall, operators in Europe face an uncertain future when it comes to the regulation of their advertising practices. There are opposing opinions in the industry, with some calling for stricter regulation on advertising from governments and others suggesting an operator-led initiative may be more successful in promoting responsible marketing.

Regardless of this, there will undoubtedly be an emphasis on sustainable growth for companies operating in gambling markets. Whilst growth is desirable, it is clear that is should not come at the expense of the promotion of healthy gambling habits amongst consumers.

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