UK moves to regulate gambling ads

The government has produced a set of draft proposals that will regulate the content of adverts promoting gambling on television. Currently only the National Lottery is allowed to advertise itself on TV. However, from next year, online gambling sites and the new breed of Las Vegas-style casinos will be able to promote themselves – with certain restrictions.

A consultation document published by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) sets out some draft proposals that would place limits on the claims that can be made by anyone trying to pull in the punters.

Among the restrictions included are that the ads should not portray ‘socially irresponsible’ gambling or gambling that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm. It should not be aimed at children or associate itself with youth culture.

Finally, although one might think this is stating the obvious, it should not suggest gambling will enhance your chances with the opposite sex or that gambling should not be portrayed as a way of solving financial problems.

Internet gambling is illegal in the US – this month, the US House of Representatives passed a Bill to block most forms of Internet gambling. However, eight million US residents placed bets through the Internet, making up about half the market.

As a result of the US ban, many of the world’s biggest online sites are actually run from the UK although the sites themselves are officially based in off-shore havens such as Gibraltar, Cyprus, Antigua and Costa Rica. For example, PartyGaming is based out of Gibraltar and is currently worth $7.5 billion. It gets 90 percent of its revenue from poker and notched up $978 million in revenues in 2005, most of it from the United States.

However from mid-2007, the independent Gambling Commission will begin to regulate British companies that run gaming sites and will open the UK to become a major centre of gambling in the world.

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