The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the industry standards body representing the betting and gaming industry has announced its new code of conduct which introduces tough new measures aims at preventing under-18s from seeing gambling adverts online.

In brief, the measures involve:

1. Gambling ads appearing on search engines must explicitly state that they are only for those aged 18+.

2. There is an enhanced obligation to include clear responsible gambling messages within online ads.

3. Gambling ads which appear on online streaming services, e.g. YouTube, will only be permitted on accounts which have been age-verified as over 18.

4. BGC members are expected to post frequent responsible gambling messages on their Twitter accounts.

5. In respect of TV gambling adverts, the BGC have introduced a requirement for 20% of all TV and radio ads to be safer gambling messages.

It is clear that the BGC is seeking to take a line against advertising to under 18s. This position aligns with the recent refresher guidance issued by the ASA and discussed on this blog here.

Whilst it is encouraging to see the industry taking this stance and seeking to protect younger consumers, these rules will only be effective if there is sufficient enforcement of the rules. The BGC does not currently have a range of penalties available to it to issue to rogue advertisers.

There are also issues around age-verification on social media accounts (such as YouTube) as younger users frequently lie about their age when signing up for an account. Similarly, the requirement for safer gambling messages to be posted to the Twitter account of the advertiser are only going to be seen by those individuals who are regular Twitter users.

The rules do not go so far as to apply to other areas of advertising, for example, sports, which is one of the biggest markets for gambling advertisement - whilst half of premier league football clubs carry logos of gambling companies on their shirts.