TV opens its doors for GBP 50m gambling adverts

The advertising industry is gearing up for a GBP 50m boost to its revenues from a relaxation of rules that will allow betting shops, casinos and gambling websites to advertise on television.

Ladbrokes has already hired M&C Saatchi for a high-profile campaign and other companies, especially online gambling firms, are deciding how much to spend.

The relaxation had long been expected as part of the 2005 Gambling Act – the same Act which has led to a supercasino – but full details were outlined by the Government yesterday.

The rules echo those that determine how drinks companies can advertise their products. Adverts will be banned during shows aimed at under-18s and anyone who appears to be under 25 cannot portrayed gambling on television or radio.

The adverts cannot suggest that gambling is a „rite of passage“, link the activity to „toughness“ or „sexual success“ and cannot suggest that it will „enhance attractiveness“. No adverts can encourage irresponsible gambling or any activity that leads to emotional or financial harm. The National Lottery, football pools and bingo are exempt from the ban.

The rules were branded as overly restrictive by some within the industry. Chris Edginton, William Hill’s marketing director, said: „My view is that yes, we will be able to advertise on television, but what we can do is not what we’d like to be able to do.“

However, the new rules represent a radical liberalisation, considering that casinos could not even list in the telephone directory as little as 10 years ago.

Recently, gambling companies were allowed to sponsor television programmes, but not take out traditional commercial slots.

Advertising executives are starting to calculate the value of the boost to revenues.

Research undertaken by Global Betting and Gaming Consultants calculated that if companies spent 5pc of their estimated GBP 5bn turnover on advertising, the boost to advertising spend would be GBP 250m.

With the addition of 17 new casinos thanks to the Gambling Act the spend could be even higher.

The general consensus among advertising experts, however, is that the industry should be boosted by at least GBP 50m.

Many are trying to dampen expectations, pointing out that only 3pc of the UK population ever visits a casino and that mainstream television advertising could be counter-productive.

Mr Edginton at William Hill said: „Spending GBP 100,000 for a space in the middle of Coronation Street would be a huge waste of my marketing budget.“