Influencerscelebrities and increasing gambling advertising restrictions
Insight provided by Senet Legal

Are you considering using an influencer or celebrity in your next gambling advertising campaign? It's not as straightforward anymore, especially in jurisdictions including Australia
, the UK and Spain

In Australia, gambling operators are subject to a comprehensive framework of codes, regulations and legislation to be able to legitimately advertise their products and services. Legislation and regulation exists at a state, territory and federal level and includes the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth), various state and territory laws and regulations, the Australian Association of National Advertisers Codes of Ethics (AANA), the AANA Advertising and Marketing Communications Codevarious TV, radio and other codes of practice (including as set by the licensing and regulatory bodies in each state and territory).  If you advertise and promote gambling products and services in Australia, you need to hold a current licence issued under state and territory legislation.

Guidelines for influencer social media advertising has recently tightened in Australia since February 2021 to ensure that the relationship between an influencer and the brand they are promoting is clear, obvious and upfront to the audience and expressed in a way that is easily understood. It is a first for Australia and social media influencers must now, at a minimum,disclose their advertising partnerships by using #ad or #Sponsored to disclose sponsored posts. This move follows the lead of the UK and is aimed at building greater transparency and trust. 

In the UK, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) states that the use of third parties in gambling advertising is acceptable but expects clear identification. The UKGC requires that any influencer endorsement contained within UK-based gambling advertisements is accompanied by a statement identifying the commercial relationship between the advertiser and the influencer, including whether they are paid to endorse the gambling service. UK-based advertisers are required to specify whether the endorsement is an 'advertorial' or a 'sponsored post'.

What about the use of celebrities in gambling advertising? 
In the UK, new rules being proposed by the body responsible for setting the relevant UK code for advertising, would potentially ban advertisements in that jurisdiction if they are found to appeal to children, irrespective of how the advertising is perceived by adults. The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have launched a public consultation on the new measures. 

CAP is consulting on proposals, amongst other things, to strengthen the rules to prohibit creative content of gambling and lotteries advertisements from appealing ‘strongly’ to under-18s (currently gambling advertisements are prohibited from appealing particularly to under-18s; in other words, they are banned from appealing more to under-18s than to adults). Details of the proposed prohibitions include: 

  • ‘A ‘strong’ appeal test identifies content (imagery, themes and characters) that has a strong level of appeal to under-18s regardless of how it is viewed by adults;
  • Adopting the ‘strong’ appeal test would decrease the potential for gambling advertisements to attract the attention of under-18s in an audience;
  • Child-oriented content (like animated characters and superheroes) are already banned. The new rules would extend to cover characters’ behaviour, language, fashion/appearance etc, which are likely to appeal strongly to under 18s;
  • In particular, advertisements would be prohibited from including a person or character who is likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who has a strong appeal to those aged under 18; and
  • The new restriction would have significant implications for gambling advertisers looking to promote their brands using prominent sports people, celebrities and social media influencers.
In September 2021, gambling advertisements were restricted in Spain when several measures included in the Royal Decree on Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities were announced. The restrictions included a ban on the use of celebrities in gambling advertising, whereby gambling advertising must not use, directly or indirectly, personalities who are well-known to the public. Further restrictions included a ban on the use of gambling brands on sports uniforms and sponsorship activity that consists of the use of an operator’s brand to identify a sports facility. The penalty for non-compliance includes fines of between €100,000 and €1 million.

In Australia, the use of celebrities in gambling advertising is legal, however there are comprehensive federal, state and territory advertising restrictions which apply to the lawful advertising of gambling services. In addition to the usual responsible gambling warnings, it is an offence to advertise an inducement to open a betting account and, in some jurisdictions, to gamble more frequently.

In jurisdictions where gambling advertising is regulated, it's important that operators check all relevant legislationregulations and relevant codes before undertaking any marketing or advertising activity, especially when seeking to feature an influencer or celebrity. Obtaining advertising approvals before design and production of a marketing campaign commences is a preventative and assurance step to avoid breaching advertising restrictions

Like to know more?
Senet is Australia’s leading gambling law and regulatory advisory firm with offices in Sydney and Melbourne. We act for major online gambling operators and are regularly instructed by international operations, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are seeking to establish business operations in Australia. 

We play a critical role in successfully bringing innovative gambling businesses to market by working in partnership with those businesses and their advisers throughout the process, so that they can achieve their objectives. 

For further information about online gaming laws and regulations in Australia please contact us at [email protected]