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The Guardian Hits the Kill Switch on Gambling Advertisements

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Among the recent developments in the gambling advertisements ban, The Guardian took up the majority of space in the iGaming world with its recent ban on gambling advertising. Taking effect from June 15, 2023, the Guardian Group banned gambling advertisements from its assets including websites, apps, audio, video, and newsletters among the print – The Guardian, Observer, and Guardian Weekly. 

Anna Bateson, the Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group, has touted the decision as a response to ‘the devastating impact of the gambling industry in the UK and Australia’, which has been frequently the subject of concerns among Guardian journalists’ reports. 

Bateson further expressed concerns with the ‘pervasive nature of the retargeted digital advertisements that trap a portion of sports fans in an addictive cycle.’ 

Why Did The Guardian Ban Gambling Advertising? 

There are multiple reasons that drove The Guardian’s decision to ban gambling advertisements, the majority of which are the group’s social responsibility towards readers’ well-being and responsible journalism. According to a report published by the Daily, approximately $25 billion is lost to gambling annually – making for a great chunk of wealth loss in Australia alone! 

However, there is a whole suite of reasons that motivated this gambling advertisement ban that dominated the headlines the previous week.  

  • The Guardian is partially motivated by the Premier League’s agreement to ban gambling companies from sponsoring the main shirt. 
  • The motivation is also drawn from the recent ban that disallows Australian gamblers from using their credit cards for online betting. 
  • The Guardian respects all individuals’ personal choice of entertainment including gambling, but being committed to responsible advertising practices, they initiated the ban. 
  • Lotteries are, however, not included in this ban. 

The gambling advertisement by Guardian has received a positive response from the gambling support network GambleAware, in the wake of the rise of online sports betting. 

Not just gambling ads, The Guardian has banned the oil and gas companies from featuring ads on its online and print outlets in 2020, in the wake of the company’s social responsibility. 

However, just a few years ago, Guardian was in a partnership with tech stack FSC Technology, under which the leading Daily launched GoWager in 2014 on the Guardian website. Following criticism from its readership, the casino and sports gambling brand was delisted from The Guardian in a year, while the brand pulled the plug in November 2021. 

What Does It Mean for the iGaming Industry? 

The impact on the iGaming industry remains significant yet contained. As a prominent media outlet that enjoys a wide readership, iGaming advertisers are going to lose a fair portion of reach via Guardian’s gambling advertisement ban. 

However, this ban can offset similar shadow bans from other media outlets amid the broader trend of increased scrutiny and regulations around the gambling industry. As more media outlets join the bandwagon and adopt similar measures, the advertising landscape for the iGaming industry may undergo significant changes. 

The only way out in this scenario for the iGaming industry is ‘socially responsible gaming’ – this key term should be on the top of the mind of every mobile game developer and marketer. 

This will not only help mobile game developers and marketers to evade such bans but will also build healthy customer relationships without pushing them to the brink of addiction.  

What Countries Have Banned Gambling Advertisements?

Many countries have restrictions in particular, related to gambling advertisements. In Russia, there’s a partial ban on gambling advertising. Such advertisements are only allowed on television and radio, that too only between 10 PM to 7 AM when viewership is low. 

Germany also partially bans gambling advertisements on TV and on the internet, in the country. The UK partially banned it, not allowing advertisements directly targeted at minors. Italy has imposed a blanket ban on gambling advertisements. 

In 2021, Spain banned private gambling ads from the media. 

India, in April 2023, directed media companies to avoid carrying advertisements related to gambling and betting on their platforms. 

In a recent development, the French Regulatory Authority has banned the use of athletes in gambling advertisements to reduce the exposure of minors to the risks of gambling. The ban has been introduced to address the concerns regarding the massive influence that these sportspersons have on young minds and to mitigate the normalization of gambling addiction in the country. 

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