The voluntary “whistle-to-whistle” ban was negotiated and then announced back in December 2018. The Remote Gambling Association, a group that includes top bookmakers including Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, led the growth.
Under the ban on whistle-to-whistle, gambling companies decided not to air gambling ads on television until 9 pm in the UK during all live sport, except for horse racing.The intention was to incorporate it in the following summer, and the move came into effect in the Ashes series this year.
The initial reaction was positive; with revised odds and operator slogans, sporting events were no longer punctuated.
Whilst the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) now receives far fewer complaints related to gambling, the results of the third quarter did not indicate any drop in operator revenue from the ban.
The industry has worked hard between the announcement and launch to restore its public reputation. Shirt sponsorship positions have been discarded, compliance standards have been lifted, and monetary contributions to charities have been made.
Unfortunately, many of these were seen as publicity campaigns for many operators without any real purpose. The same thoughts about the ban on whistle-to-whistle are shared.
Operators shift their online advertising where there is much greater potential for targeting and tailoring marketing campaigns. Therefore, giving up time on TV screens would not be completely counterproductive to a large company with a reputation already built.
After the suspension started during the Ashes, it was further reduced by another sporting event. This year’s Rugby World Cup took place in Japan, with matches starting in the UK as early as 6:45am.
While this falls outside the hours of the wetlands, it raises questions about the realistic duration of the prohibition.