The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has reminded advertisers that its new rules on the appeal of gambling ads to under-18s came into effect in October 2022, further limiting the kinds of content acceptable in football-related gambling ads. Gambling operators talking about the World Cup in social media must comply with the standards set out in the CAP Code.

CAP recommends consulting its guidance accompanying the new rules, as it can be tricky to decide whether a piece of content – such as an image of a footballer or background graphics – is likely to be banned by the Advertising Standards Authority because it is deemed to have "strong" appeal to under-18s.

Given that football is overwhelmingly popular with all age groups and the World Cup is the biggest tournament in the world, CAP says that sports betting operators need to be very careful in the kinds of content used. It points out that the new controls on appeal to under-18s do not ban football-related content and references outright; there are proportionate exemptions that allow gambling advertising to reasonably illustrate betting products offered. In terms of football references, these are only acceptable if they come under one of the exemptions set out in part 15 of the guidance:

  • text or audio references to the gambling activity or product;
  • limited use of persons or characters who pass the test set out in the guidance;
  • generic depictions of the sport or game;
  • logos of teams or competitions that are the subject of a gambling product; and
  • advertisers' brand logos or identifiers.

This means that advertisers can use simple text or text-only graphic posts that refer to teams and players – for example, during the action in live commentary or comment, or reporting on the event afterwards. The same goes for audio references, such as embedded videos of talking heads discussing the day's games. However, the inclusion of depictions of players, teams or managers is prohibited. This is important when posting things like team sheets (no headshots) or videos recapping the action. CAP also warns marketers to be very careful with memes and attempts at comedy.

CAP says that there is likely to be some scope to use football-related people, such as pundits, but there are tests in relation to the individual's profile set out in the guidance that marketers must satisfy to make sure they are not likely to be of "strong" appeal to under-18s (see part 18 of the guidance).

Any other content should be generic – for example, generic equipment such as balls, goalposts or coloured shirts. However, marketers can also use stylised depictions, such as blurred or long-focus shots of stadia or computer-generated imagery. The other area of exemption allows for the use of the marketer's business logos (if they include football-related imagery, for instance) and that serve the same purpose as a simple text description (a team crest or tournament logo).

For further information on this topic please contact Sarah MacDonald at Wiggin by telephone (+44 1242 224 114) or email ([email protected]). The Wiggin website can be accessed at www.wiggin.co.uk.