October 23, 2020 written by

Gambling ads banned from using celebrities

The use of celebrities and sports stars is expected to be banned in gambling and betting ads. This is the latest rule intended to crack down on the targeting of gambling marketing at under-18s.

You might be familiar with recent sports betting ads shown on television and online featuring sportstars José Mourinho, Michael Owen and Harry Redknapp. Under the new rules, these cannot continue. 

Proposed by the body responsible for setting the UK code for advertising, the rules currently state that an advert is banned only if it is likely to appeal to an under-18 more than it would to an adult. Under the new rules, an ad will be banned if it appeals to children at all. 

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) was influenced to make this decision due to recent research commissioned by GambleAware, which found that the current code designed to protect children from the influence of gambling ads is insufficient. 

Now, prominent sports personalities, reality TV stars and social media influencers will no longer feature in ads. The CAP explains, “featuring the England football captain in a gambling ad would be prohibited under this new rule,” Whereas, ads featuring celebrities more irrelevant for younger audiences, such as Ray Winstone who has been the face of many Bet365 campaigns, would not be affected by the new rules.

When it comes to online bingo and casinos, famous long-standing endorsements such as Barbara Windsor and Paddy McGuinness for Jackpot Joy would be unlikely to be banned. 

Gambling and betting ads are not currently allowed to appear in any media where more than a quarter of the audience is under 18 years old. They also must not have any association with youth culture, any implied link between gambling and enhanced attractiveness, or any suggestion that gambling could be a solution to financial problems or provide an escape from personal problems.

This new rule comes a little over a year after the famous “whistle to whistle” blackout was introduced. This rule banned the airing of betting adverts during sports games in order to prevent children from having excessive exposure to gambling. The BCG recently reported that the initiative was successful in slashing the amount of TV gambling ads seen by 4 to 17-year-olds by 97 per cent.

The promotion and advertising of gambling is continuously changing in line with the increasing need to protect both children and adults from forming harmful habits. If you have concerns about gambling habits causing harm, check out our guide to responsible gambling here. 

Many campaigning groups would like to see a complete ban on gambling advertising. However, the CAP said the available evidence did not justify a total ban.


Recent sports betting ads featuring sportstars José Mourinho, Michael Owen and Harry Redknapp cannot continue under new rules.

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