Betting brands including Paddy Power, Betfair, Ladbrokes Coral Group and Bet365, are pulling all TV and radio advertising during the coronavirus pandemic after increasing pressure from MPs.
The voluntary measure will be implemented by 7 May for a minimum of six weeks and will be reviewed when the lockdown is relaxed, according to The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents betting shops, online betting and gaming, bingo and casinos.
The BGC said that there has been a 10% drop in TV adspend from its members during the lockdown. Existing TV and radio slots will be replaced by safer gambling messages, donated to charities or removed where allowed.
The organisation added that its members account for about 50% of all gambling ads across TV and radio, and called on remaining operators such as The National Lottery and other bingo brands to also pull their ads.
The move will be another blow for the ad market, which is already expecting a 50% fall in revenue in April. Campaign's latest survey shows that many expect the market to contract by at least 40% between April and June.
The brands will continue to advertise online and across direct marketing channels. However, the BGC said that its members have "significantly dropped" such ads in an attempt to "commit to further increases in safer gambling messaging online".
MPs have been calling for a moratorium on all gambling advertising during the Covid-19 lockdown, with many people are stuck indoors and potentially turning to online betting.
Carolyn Harris, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm, welcomed the move, saying that this is a "clear admission" that the ads are having a "profound effect" on problem gambling. She added that the measure should have been introduced at the beginning of the lockdown.
Today's decision by the @BetGameCouncil is welcome, if long overdue.— Carolyn Harris MP (@carolynharris24) April 27, 2020
It's vital that this suspension is extended to all gambling advertising and that longer term changes are made in the near future to prevent the levels of problem gambling we see across the UK. pic.twitter.com/BRDJcWimHJ
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: "Throughout this crisis, as the new standards body, the BGC has worked very closely with the government.
"Ministers and the regulator all deserve credit for their steadfast and consistent determination to have an evidence-led approach and to rightly call for higher standards.
"There will always been alarmist noises from anti-gambling prohibitionists who just want to grab headlines, but it is this serious, constructive and evidence-led approach by the BGC’s regulated members that has resulted in this further major change.
"We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers potentially at risk during this lockdown period and beyond – and we are determined to drive the high standards that the public expect from us. I hope others follow our lead."