Ad industry wins peers' backing on ads for gambling

LONDON - The Government is expected to drop plans to allow a new commission to regulate ads for gambling following protests from the advertising industry.

The Advertising Association and Advertising Standards Authority have won the backing of MPs and peers for their campaign to ensure that ads for casinos, bingo and other gambling activities are dealt with under the industry's code of practice when the existing strict controls over gambling ads are scrapped.

Ministers had originally planned to allow a new Gambling Commission to develop its own code of practice for advertising. But a committee of MPs and peers who have examined the Government's proposals have rejected the idea, saying that the commission should act only as a "backstop regulator" for ads.

"We recommend that the draft [Gambling] Bill should not prejudice the continuation of the existing and seemingly effective self-regulatory model for gambling advertisements," the committee said in a 300-page report. It added that the commission could be given a reserve power to enable it to assume control if self-regulation does not work.

The ASA and AA told the committee it would be "ill-conceived" for the commission to control non-broadcast ads. They warned it would create "double jeopardy" for the industry to have two regulators, cause confusion for consumers, be "disproportionately expensive" and waste the ASA's expertise.

The MPs and peers also shared the industry's doubts that Government plans for "health warnings" on gambling ads may not work. But they backed the idea of ads including details of how "problem gamblers" could get help.

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