‘Whistle to whistle’ ban dramatically reduces number of betting adverts seen by children

A ban on UK TV betting advertising during live sport has dramatically reduced children’s ability to watch them, according to a new report.

Expert analysis has revealed that the “whistle to whistle” ban has slashed the amount of TV gambling ads seen by 4 to 17-year-olds by 97%.

Under the ban, betting adverts must not be shown on UK television from five minutes before a live sporting event begins until five minutes after it ends, prior to the 9pm watershed. It was introduced by members of the Betting and Gaming Council on 1 August, 2019. The BGC represents the regulated betting industry, excluding the National Lottery.

A study by Enders Analysis found that during the whistle to whistle period, the number of betting ads seen by children fell by 97%. Overall, the amount of gambling ads viewed by youngsters has fallen by 70% over the full duration of live sport programmes.

The analysis also found that the whistle to whistle ban contributed to a reduction of 1.7 billion views of betting ads during the first five months it was in operation.

Meanwhile, there were 109 million fewer gambling ads viewed across four comparative weekends as a result of the ban.

Total gambling advertising exposure during live sport before 9pm also declined by 78%.

In addition, the research found that there was no apparent displacement of gambling advertising to other evening sports programmes, with the number of post-watershed ads also down by 28%.

Since being set up last year, the BGC has introduced a range of measures aimed at improving standards in the industry.

These include a requirement that at least 20% of TV and radio gambling advertisements are safer gambling messages, cooling off periods on gaming machines, new ID and age verification checks, encouraging deposit limits and boosting funding for research, education and treatment.

The BGC is also working on a new code of conduct for sponsorship and advertising that will further improve standards.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “The BGC was set up to improve standards in our industry.

“The success of the whistle to whistle ban is a clear example of that commitment and I’m very pleased at how effective it has been during its first year in operation.

“In particular, it’s encouraging to see that it has effectively eliminated children’s ability to view betting adverts during live televised sport.

“I am determined that the BGC will lead a race to the top in terms of industry standards and we want to drive more changes in the future.

“At the same time, we urge the Government to work with us to crack down on black market operators who have no interest in safer gambling or protecting their customers and do not work to the same responsible standards as BGC members.

“The Review of the Gambling Act will also provide further opportunities to improve standards and we look forward to working with the Government on this.”