UK Bookies Review Option of Setting Voluntary Advertising RestrictionsBy Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsDecember 7, 2018 at 12:45 pmWhen the Remote Gambling Association, the major voice for Europe’s online gambling industry, wants to sit down with its UK members and talk over steps to improve responsible gambling and the industry’s public image, we know that stuff just got real.The meeting, which took place on 20th November, included several key members of the UK’s gambling industry and was specifically run as a leaders’ meeting. Not every major player in the UK industry is a member, but many big names are: bet365, 888, betfair, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill, among others.The RGA’s 35 major industry players carry a lot of weight, and leading members of the Association have been calling for the measures proposed on the day to be enacted, but there is no official confirmation yet on how much consensus was achieved during the meeting. The measures proposed have been made public, however, and they make for strong reading.All existing RGA members will be required to follow the new advertising code, should it be established. Elements of the code discussed at the meeting included a fixed watershed for gambling ads on TV, a limit of one advert per advertising break, and a ban on ads which call on players to “act now” during live broadcasts.Some television networks have already chosen to set their own limits. Sky, for example, recently announced a fixed limit of one gambling advert per break. Sky uses an auction system to sell their advertising space, so this may not be quite as huge a financial hit to the media giant as it appears. Nonetheless, it is likely to be substantial, and indicates a growing trend of media firms choosing to take a more conservative stance in view of changing perceptions in the public’s attitude toward gambling ads, and a rising sense of the need to set limits on exposure, particularly of children, to gambling content in advertising.Further regulatory restrictions on advertising are highly likely in the near future, far more so if the industry does not adopt stricter standards and limits of its own – on TV in particular, and perhaps also with regard to online ads. TV is the current hot potato, for obvious reasons; if Labour take power, they have pledged a full ban on live sports TV broadcast gambling ads. The more the industry does now on its own initiative, the less drastic any incoming political action is likely to be.In all likelihood, we will see a consensus of RGA members rally more or less around the recommendations outlined above and endorsed by several major members already. If the code does become established, it may also encourage the government to require a similar standard from non-members, which would reduce the risk the RGA’s members may feel they face from taking up an uncompetitive policy which would unduly restrict them from achieving new customer acquisitions. It may just be a brilliant pre-emptive move in order to limit any damages from whatever the government might choose to do next. In poker terms, it could be a great blocker bet.