Betting shops and casinos will be free to advertise on TV

Casinos, betting shops and gambling websites will be allowed to advertise on television and radio for the first time next year under guidelines published today.

Under draft rules announced by the advertising standards watchdog, advertisements will be permitted if they are „socially responsible“ and do not target the young, the vulnerable or promote gambling as an alternative to employment.

The guidelines are part of the liberalisation of the betting industries under the Gambling Act 2005.

Under the existing rules, drawn up 40 years ago, television and radio adverts for betting, gaming and lotteries are banned, with the exception of the National Lottery. Print adverts for gambling are heavily restricted. From September 2007, when the Gambling Act comes into force, casinos, betting shops and gambling websites will be allowed to advertise providing they comply with content rules drawn up by the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice.

„The overriding priority is to ensure that gambling advertisements are socially responsible and avoid harming or exploiting children or vulnerable groups,“ said Andrew Brown, the chairman of CAP and BCAP.

Under the draft rules, such adverts will not be allowed to „portray, condone or encourage“ socially irresponsible gambling, or gambling that could lead to financial or social harm.

They must not link gambling with seduction, sexual success or „enhanced attractiveness“, nor must they be targeted at children and young people. Anything that suggests gambling can be an alternative to a proper job will also be banned.

The law will also ban the advertising of poker and other gambling websites unless they are licensed in Britain.

Charities that deal with addiction fear that the new rules could increase problem gambling.

Matt Spencer, of the Salvation Army, said: „We are concerned about the introduction of new gambling advertising and the potential impact that this may have on society.

„As more people see these adverts they may be more likely to gamble. We fear this could lead to an increase in problem gambling.“

The public consultation on the guidelines for gambling adverts closes on September 15.

The new rules will be published next May and take effect in September 2007.