The U.K. gambling market is one of the most open and developed in the world, but the rules for participating have now changed, and anyone wishing to operate in it from here on out will have to apply for and receive a license from UK regulators.
This new rule doesn’t just solely affect the online gaming operators. In fact the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act of 2014 has a much more far-reaching impact, and applies to anyone involved in advertising or promoting the industry too.
Notably, Google has been actively communicating with their Adwords account holders, to inform them of an important change to their advertising policy. The gist is that Google is updating the application requirements for advertisers seeking approval from them to target the UK with online gambling ads.
In an email to Adwords clients, Google explains their shift in Google Adwords policy towards online gambling ads as a direct response to the passage of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014. The Act requires any operator wishing to transact with or advertise to British consumers to obtain an operating license from the Gambling Commission and is expected to come into force on 01 October 2014. This development is designed to provide greater protection measures for users in Great Britain of remote gambling services, including online bingo, casino, sports betting sites, and telephone betting.
So, what exactly does this new ‘Point of Consumption’ regulatory framework mean for Adwords advertisers of online gaming in the UK, and what do you need to do if you fall into this camp?
If you have already been approved by Google to target online gambling ads to the UK, the following applies:
Advertisers who applied using a licence issued by the UK Gambling Commission don’t need to take any further action.
Advertisers who applied using a licence issued by any other entity (i.e. Gibraltar, Malta, Isle of Man, Alderney etc.) need to reapply by September 15, 2014 including either:
i. a new license issued by the UK Gambling Commission, or ii. a continuation licence from the UK Gambling Commission
If you are a new applicant looking to target online gambling ads to the UK: Beginning September 2, 2014, advertisers who apply using a licence issued by an entity other than the UK Gambling Commission will need to also provide:
i. a continuation licence issued by the UK Gambling Commission, or ii. a new licence for foreign operators issued by the UK Gambling Commission (once such licences are available)
From October 2014, only advertisers who have submitted either a UK licence or a UK continuation licence (and have had their application approved) will be permitted to target the UK with online gambling ads.
From June 2015 only advertisers who have submitted a full licence issued by the UK Gambling Commission will be permitted to target the UK with online gambling ads.
In a nutshell, this means no more offshore licensing bodies, for either Operators or advertisers. We urge all Google Adwords advertisers who are currently targeting the UK with online gambling ads to read the instructions above.
Google states that they have given much consideration to their stance on advertising of this content, and the potential affect their policy could have on Adword advertisers. However, as a business, they must make decisions regarding the advertising that they will accept, and per their Terms and Conditions, they “may refuse any ads or terminate ad campaigns at any time, for any reason.”