Broadcaster Sky is imposing a limit on the number of betting adverts it will show during sporting events and across its network as a whole. Set to come into effect at the start of the 2019/2020 Premier League season, the new ad restriction means viewers will only see one gambling related advert before the 9pm watershed.

According to executives at Sky, the self-imposed limit will apply across all channels where advertising space is sold. It will cover all forms of betting, including poker, bingo, sports and casino.

Commenting on the news, director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Helen Undy welcomed the restrictions.

“This is a really welcome step from Sky to empower customers who struggle with gambling by enabling them to opt out of gambling ads, and will no doubt be popular among other people too. It adds to the momentum across industries to tackle problem gambling,” Undy said in a November press release.

UKGC Guidelines Push For Greater Responsibility

The move from Sky comes as the UK Gambling Commission is pushing for greater social responsibility among operators. In February, the regulator solidified its ties with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by releasing a new set of guidelines for operators. Announced by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), the new codes not only clarified existing rules but introduce additional measures, including:

  • Restrict adverts calling for customers to “bet now”.
  • Stop the trivialisation of gambling.
  • Prevent irresponsible gambling.
  • Provide greater details on problem gambling.
  • Don’t emphasise the money-making aspects of gambling.

Sky Reacts To World Cup Advertising Surge

Taking the initiative, Sky will be working with operators to abide by these rules and, in turn, limit the amount of betting content it shows during primetime hours. Commenting on the changes, Sky UK’s chief executive Stephen van Rooyen said he “understood the concerns” of customers and wants to ensure the network is a safe place for all. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the number of betting adverts shown reached record levels. Reviewing content during the summer tournament, The Times found that ITV alone showed almost 90 minutes of betting ads.

As the amount of gambling material shown increased, the ASA recorded 115 complaints from viewers. Reacting to this, Sky has taken the initiative, something that could lead to broader changes across the industry as whole. In analysing the news, betting insiders believe the limit will lead to a shift in the way operators allocate their budgets. With spending from at least one broadcaster set to fall, online adverts are likely to increase. This, in turn, will lead to more initiatives and innovations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Paradigm Shift Could Prompt Promotional Push From Operators

Beyond a shift in the way promotions are transmitted to the world, spending on promotions is likely to increase. With operators needing to make a bigger impact in a shorter space of time, ‘free bonuses' will become more important. Leading bingo brands are expected to expand their selection of no deposit bingo offers, major betting companies will offer more ‘free bets' offers, so customers will receive more value for their time online. Taking a wider perspective on the issue, this dynamic could kill two birds with one stone. By spending more on promotions and less on TV adverts, operators will be taking a more targeted approach to advertising.

Instead of blasting out content to a general audience, offering more promotions will lead to increased participation among those that actually want to place a bet. The upshot of this will be fewer complaints from those uninterested in the betting industry and more value for those that do want to ante up.

At this stage, other broadcasters haven’t signalled their intent to follow Sky’s lead. However, with the network being among the largest in the world, it is likely other channels will take note and implement their own policies over the coming months. If and when that happens, operators will react and that could mean an uptick in offers and innovations from the industry’s leading platforms.