Whistle to Whistle ban - did it work?

Whistle to Whistle (W2W) Advertising Restrictions


‘Whistle-to-whistle advertising ban’ = Banning TV advertisements 5 mins before, during and 5mins after sports broadcasts before 9pm

  • Introduced on 1st August 2019

  • Excludes sponsorships

  • Excludes online casinos, lotteries, bingo, and scratch cards (and non-BGC gambling companies) which are not subject to the voluntary industry commitment

  • Excludes horse racing and greyhound racing

  • Voluntary ban only covers TV (15% of all industry marketing spend; 80% is spent online)

Philip Bowcock, CEO of William Hill,

"I was on the record in 2016 saying I had concerns about the level of gambling advertising... the tone of the adverts, the number of them and the potential impact on young people...
Our sustainability relies on keeping customers safe and gambling with us for the long term, as part of our Nobody Harmed ambition... we must show that we are stepping up to the plate on this issue."

Analysis of the effectiveness of W2W voluntary restrictions

  • Firstly, the effectiveness is severely limited as the ban is not comprehensive (does not apply to non-BGC betting companies and is only for TV (15% of industry ad spend))

  • From Aug - EOY 2018 to August - EOY 2019, BGC results show that total number of ads viewed across all channels fell by 11.3% (15, 222 million views to 13, 499 million views)

  • BGC results compared September 2018 with September 2019, which show a decrease in consumption of gambling advertising on TV by 18.6% (1, 090 million views to 807 million views)

  • Analysis commissioned by the BGC does not describe why September was selected for analysis, and the study lacks a critical and comprehensive review of gambling advertising as it does not consider exposure through sponsorships, advertisements not on TV, and advertising in other time periods

  • While exposure to BGC gambling advertising on TV may have fallen by about 10% (led by decreases in sports-related gambling advertising on TV), there is no evidence to reflect that this was a real reduction in overall advertising

  • Without a comprehensive ban, advertising will simply be displaced to less regulated and less scrutinised areas of marketing such as online advertising or sponsorships

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