Ministerial Review Threatens Ban on Bingo Ads before 9PM Watershed

PrintE-mail Written by STARBURST Monday, 21 November 2016

A government review of gambling adverts has been announced and details show that it could result in adverts for Bingo websites banned from being shown on TV before the 9PM threshold. The watershed time is applied to all television programmes that contain adult material such as swearing, violence, and nudity and could now also be applied to bingo adverts.

The urgent review has been launched by Ministers concerned that the adverts for popular bingo websites such as FoxyBingo and others may be placing undue influence on young children. The review will also look at revising the prize and stake limits currently offered by providers as well as create legislation for where and when physical betting terminals can be used.

Watershed only for Bingo Adverts

When launching the review, government ministers expressed their concern that as Bingo rises in popularity, so have the adverts shown on TV for competing providers. The ministers feel that this has led young children to view gambling activities such as lotteries and bingo sites as normal, hence the desire to only allow the adverts to be shown later in the day when young children have gone to bed. The announcement also stated that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals would also fall under the scrutiny of the urgent review.

The efforts to curb young children’s exposure to promotional material for gambling and betting services is commendable but the resulting decisions will need to include recommendations that adverts should adhere to for any pre-watershed advertising. The review has also been prompted by growing alarm at what is perceived as social harm, meaning that even the best new bingo sites are at risk of being banned from advertising to potential customers before 9pm.

Bingo’s Popularity Fuels Rise in TV Adverts

The popularity of online bingo sites and mobile apps has fuelled a massive rise in the number of adverts shown on television by operators looking to attract customers. By way of measurement, the total number of gambling-related adverts was tallied at 900,000 at the end of 2005. Contrast that figure to seven years later in 2012 when the number rose to almost 1.5 million advertisements. Those figures taken at the end of 2012 will have risen considerably again in the succeeding four years that have passed since.

The Gambling Minister stressed that any new regulations would need to strike a fair balance between allowing gambling operators to operate and contribute to the economy while also promoting responsible gambling and protecting affected communities. Under current rules, Bingo, lotteries, and sports betting services are allowed to advertise before 9pm while all other forms of gambling can only be shown after that time. 

There are concerns that are large numbers of young people are taking up gambling at an early age and that has forced the government to reconsider the rules. As mentioned above, the considerations are commendable but even as the Minister overseeing Gambling has stated; a balance will have to be found by regulators that allow such businesses to thrive and minimising any adverse effects on gambling enthusiasts and communities.

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