Sponsorship And Gambling In England And Wales In 2007: New Opportunities Or New Pitfalls?

Originally published inJournal of

Sponsorship Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 194-201


The paper discusses the changes introduced by the

Gambling Act 2005 to gambling advertising with a particular

emphasis on the sponsor's involvement. Now all key parties

in any way involved with an advertising campaign are caught by

the Act and will need to be aware of its relevant provisions.

The effect of the Committee of Advertising Practice and

Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice advertising

standard codes, as well as the recent Gambling Industry Code

for Socially Responsible Gambling, is assessed in relation to

advertising and sponsorship, and new opportunities for gambling

operators and brand owners are highlighted. Traps for the

unwary are discussed and a sponsorship agreement terms

checklist for brand owners and gambling operators is included.

Reference to recent Advertising Standards Authority

adjudications is made as they provide a useful guide on running

advertising campaigns without attracting complaints and the

regulator's attention.


Much has been made recently of the new opportunities that

the Gambling Act 2005 provides, not just for gambling

operators, but for parties on both sides of the sponsorship

business and those looking to associate themselves with the

more trusted gambling brands. The types of new opportunity

being considered concern both access to new markets/customers

as well as raising profile and extending business offerings.

But behind the hype, what is the true position? How do

sponsors, those approached by or those actively looking for

sponsors in the gambling business approach the issues?


The Gambling Act 2005 ('the Act'), which came into

force fully on 1st September, 2007, seeks to unify and update

the existing legislation governing gaming, betting and

participating in lotteries, all now coming under the definition

of gambling. It is designed to govern all forms of gambling,

apart from the National Lottery, and spread betting. The

following sectors are therefore now included: casinos, bingo,

gaming machines, betting, arcades, lotteries (except the

National Lottery) and, for the first time, remote gaming. At

its core are three key licensing objectives to ensure that:

gambling is fair and transparent;

gambling is free from crime;

children and other vulnerable people are protected from

being harmed or exploited by gambling.

In order to achieve these objectives a new licensing regime

regulating gambling has been established, under the auspices of

the Gambling Commission ('the Commission'), which has

taken over from the previous regulator, the Gaming Board for

Great Britain. All gambling operators based here must ensure

that they have all the necessary licences in place from the

Commission before conducting their operations, as it is

unlawful to operate, or to advertise a forthcoming service,

without the necessary licences being in place. Responsibility

for the regulation of advertising by gambling operators is

shared between the Office for Communication (Ofcom), The

Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and

Sport (DCMS), the Commission, the Committee of Advertising

Practice (CAP), the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice

(BCAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).


Before the new gambling advertising rules came into effect

on 1st September, 2007, such advertising was regulated by

different pieces of legislation, and various broadcast and

non-broadcast advertising codes of practice. Inconsistencies

between the different sectors of the gambling industry were not

uncommon. To give two often-cited examples: bingo clubs and

lotteries were generally able to advertise on television, while

betting operators and casinos were not, and bookmakers were

able to advertise in newspapers, while again casinos were not,

other than by a minimal amount of factual information in the

classified advertisements, itself the result of a relaxation of

the otherwise stringent rules. It was possible for betting

operators and casinos to sponsor events, including events shown

on television; however, the old legislation was not only

piecemeal and inconsistent in its approach, it was also not

designed to accommodate the recent rapid changes in technology,

especially commercial use of the internet, since its enactment

over 40 years ago. While the changes that the Act makes affect

the whole of the gambling industry, and those working with it,

this paper is focused on certain changes to the gambling

advertising rules, with particular regard to the new

possibilities and pitfalls in relation to sponsorship


It should be noted at this point that the Act does not apply

to Northern Ireland, where the position remains basically the

same as pre-September in England and Wales, although it should

also be borne in mind that the CAP code and BCAP code on

advertising both updated with effect from 15th

September, 2007 to take account of the liberalisation of

gambling advertising by the Act do still apply in

Northern Ireland, therefore specific advice in relation to

Northern Ireland should always be sought.


The Act modernises the gambling advertising rules by

creating consistency across the industry, and introducing a new

definition of advertising in s. 327, which is considerably

broader in its application than was previously the case. Now a

person can be advertising gambling in three different ways:

if he does anything to encourage people to take advantage

(directly or indirectly) of facilities for gambling;

if he brings information about such facilities to

people's attention with a view to increasing the use

being made of such facilities;

if he takes part in, or facilitates, an activity which

either he knows, or believes, to be designed to encourage

people to use gambling facilities, or he brings such

facilities to people's attention with a view to

increasing their use.

To bring such gambling facilities to people's attention

with a view to increasing their use includes arrangements where

a name is displayed in connection with an event or product, and

gambling is either the only or the main activity under that

name, or the way the name is displayed has been designed to

indicate that gambling is taking place under that name. This

means that all the key parties in any way involved in an

advertising campaign are caught by the Act. The new definition

is clearly intended not only to catch the gambling operator

placing an advertisement, but also the...

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