Agencies warned of 'significant loss of revenue' as gambling ad ban confirmed

Betting operators agree sweeping changes effective from summer 2019.

Agencies warned of 'significant loss of revenue' as gambling ad ban confirmed

The gambling industry has confirmed a voluntary ban on TV betting ads during pre-watershed live sport and pre-watershed bookmaker sponsorship of sports programmes as well as highlight shows and reruns.

The ban will take effect from summer 2019 but will not apply to horseracing and greyhound racing programmes.

The development has alarmed the IPA, which has warned of the impact on its agency members of the speed of withdrawal of what has been a boom area of business over recent years, particularly 'bet in-play' ads during live football.

"We will be following up to ensure there is enough time to… adjust to new trading rules and to minimise what will be a significant loss of revenue for all parties concerned," IPA director-general Paul Bainsfair told Campaign after news that changes were under consideration leaked out last week.

The ban could take up to £200m annual spend out of the TV ad market, according to a media agency source.

One creative agency chief, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "There's no doubting this move will have a massive impact on the amount of money those clients are spending on advertising – and, consequently, the agencies they're paying to make those ads, and buy those slots.

"It's not for me to comment on how reliant other agencies are on those fees or commissions, but it's worth pointing out that a couple of months ago, nine of the 16 creative agencies in Campaign's new business table were there courtesy of a gambling client.

"For whatever reason, there's always been an enormous amount of money floating around that industry, and there's no way a big chunk of it disappearing from our industry wouldn't significantly hurt quite a few agencies."

Momentum behind the ban is strong, with cross-industry agreement secured through the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling in response to gathering pressure from politicians. The IGRG comprises five trade organisations respresenting bookmakers, offshore bookmakers, casinos, bingo operators and betting machine operators.

John Hagan, chair of IGRG, said the changes to the industry code would "drastically reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television and complement the strict controls that already govern gambling companies around advertising on digital platforms".

The changes are due to be incorporated into the code when it is updated in January, but there will be a six-month lead-in before they come into effect.

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