3 Advertising and Marketing 

3.2The Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice
3.3Advertising Standards
3.4General Data Protection Regulation
3.5The Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act 2014

3.1 Introduction

Marketing and advertising in the licensed gambling industry are regulated by the Gambling Commission in the LCCP, this includes Bingo. 

There are any number of codes, regulations and guidance notes on how to legally market and advertise gambling, however a common sense approach to what is fair, equitable and 


The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Gambling 

A key point is made in the LCCP at Ordinary Code Provision 5.1.8, which states: 

  1. Licensees should follow any relevant industry code on advertising, notably the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising 

We would recommend that this Industry Code be used as a reference point for all marketing and advertising within your business (see Resource Centre for the appropriate link). 

The Industry Code is not mandatory but sets a benchmark against which operators’ commitment to social responsibility will be measured. Its success depends on the gambling industry adhering to its provisions and the aim is that all gambling operators comply. 

The following section of the Operators Handbook will identify in greater detail those areas of regulation and guidance that will, if adhered to and interpreted correctly keep the Operator on the right side of the regulators; be it the Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority or the UK Competition & Markets Authority. 

3.2 The Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (see Resource Centre

There are four types of licence condition that may be attached to operating licen

3.2.1 Social Responsibility Code Provisions 

The first Social Responsibility Code Provision appears at 5.1.1 of the SR Code, which is set out in full below: 

  1. If a licensee makes available to any customer or potential customer any incentive or reward scheme or other arrangement under which the customer may receive money, goods, services or any other advantage (including the discharge in whole or in part of any liability of his) (‘the benefit’) the scheme must be designed to operate, and be operated, in such a way that: 
    a) the circumstances in which, and conditions subject to which, the benefit is available are clearly set out and readily accessible to the customers to whom it is offered; 
    b) neither the receipt nor the value or amount of the benefit is: 
    i) dependent on the customer gambling for a pre-determined length of time or with a pre-determined frequency; or 
    ii) altered or increased if the qualifying activity or spend is reached within a shorter time than the whole period over which the benefit is offered. 
    c) if the value of the benefit increases with the amount the customer spends it does so at a rate no greater than that at which the amount spent increases; and further that: 
    d) if the benefit comprises free or subsidised travel or accommodation which facilitates the customer’s attendance at particular licensed premises the terms on which it is offered are not directly related to the level of the customer’s prospective gambling. 
In other words, be clear and ensure your proposal is proportionate to what a customer spends. 

Operators should state in their policy how they will meet these provisions. 

3.2.2 Marketing Incentives 

Marketing Incentives are dealt with in Social Responsibility Code 5.1.9, as follows: 

  1. Licensees must ensure that their marketing communications, advertisement, and invitations to purchase (within the meaning of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008) do not amount to or involve misleading actions or misleading omissions within the meaning of those Regulations. 
  2. Licensees must ensure that all significant conditions which apply to marketing incentives are provided transparently and prominently to consumers. Licensees must present the significant conditions at the point of sale for any promotion, and on any advertising in any medium for that marketing incentive except where, in relation to the latter, limitations of space make this impossible. In such a case, information about the significant conditions must be included to the extent that it is possible to do so, the advertising must clearly indicate that significant conditions apply and where the advertisement is online, the significant conditions must be displayed in full no further than one click away. 
  3. The terms and conditions of each marketing incentive must be made available for the full duration of the promotion. 
Make sure your Terms and Conditions are clear and unambiguous.

As also stated earlier in this section Operators should state in their policy how they will meet these social responsibility provisions. 

Ordinary Code provision 5.1.2 also references Incentives

  1. Licensees should only offer incentive or reward schemes in which the benefit available is proportionate to the type and level of customers’ gambling. 
Be proportionate! Don’t offer 1000 free bingo games for every 1 ticket purchased by an individual customer. 

Ordinary Code provision 5.1.10 refers to the placement of marketing or incentives as follows: 

1. Licensees should ensure that no advertising or other marketing information, whether relating to specific offers or to gambling generally, appears on any primary web page/screen, or micro site that provides advice or information on responsible gambling. 

3.2.3 Alcohol 

Alcoholic drinks are occasionally used as part of a marketing campaign. Operators should be mindful that there is a specific Social Responsibility Code, 5.1.3, that deals with this: 

  1. If licensees offer customers free or discounted alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises they must do so on terms which do not in any way link the availability of such drinks to whether, or when, the customer begins, or continues, to gamble. 
  2. Licensees must not make unsolicited offers of free alcoholic drinks for immediate consumption by customers at a time when they are participating in gambling activities. 
Do not use free alcohol to encourage continued or further machine play. 

It should also be noted that a company policy statement, induction procedure and ongoing training should be in place to ensure compliance with this social responsibility code. 

3.2.4 Advertising Codes 

Compliance with Advertising codes is also dealt with within the LCCP, firstly with a Social Responsibility Code provision at 5.1.6: 

  1. All marketing of gambling products and services must be undertaken in a socially responsible manner. 
  2. In particular, Licensees must comply with the advertising codes of practice issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) as applicable. For media not explicitly covered, licensees should have regard to the principles included in these codes of practice as if they were explicitly covered. 
  3. The restriction on allowing people who are, or seem to be, under 25 years old (ie: those in the 18-24 age bracket) to appear in marketing communications need not be applied in the case of non-remote point of sale advertising material, provided that the images used depict the sporting or other activity that may be gambled on and not the activity of gambling itself and do not breach any other aspect of the advertising codes. 

Further reference will be made to CAP and BCAP later in this section. 

Before you publish a new promotion always sense check the content with a colleague: How old do these customers look? Is the offer genuine? 
3.2.5 Direct Marketing 

Social Responsibility Code 5.1.11addresses the sensitive issue of direct electronic marketing as follows: 

  1. Unless expressly permitted by law consumers must not be contacted with direct electronic marketing without their informed and specific consent. Whenever a consumer is contacted the consumer must be provided with an opportunity to withdraw consent. If consent is withdrawn the licensee must, as soon as practicable, ensure the consumer is not contacted with electronic marketing thereafter unless the consumer consents again. Licensees must be able to provide evidence which establishes that consent. 
If you advertise or promote on Facebook ALWAYS include the 18+ logo and BeGambleAware web address (See Resource Centre). 

3.3 Advertising Standards 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the independent regulator of advertising across all media in the UK. It applies the Advertising Codes (CAP and BCAP), which are written by the ASA’s Committees of Advertising Practice. 

CAP: Committee of Advertising Practice. 

BCAP: Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice. 

Its work includes acting on complaints and proactively checking the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements. 

The ASA is the independent watchdog responsible for administering the Codes. It responds to complaints from consumers and industry about advertisements that appear to be misleading, harmful or offensive. If a complaint is upheld, then the advert must be withdrawn or amended. ASA adjudications are often reported in the National Press which could be damaging to the reputation of the advertising company. 

Complaints about advertisements can be made via the ASA’s website. The web site is listed at the end of this section. 

Advertising of all forms of gambling is permitted, subject to the requirements of the advertising codes of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), both of whom are independently administered by the ASA. The CAP and BCAP codes have been updated, to include advice from the Gambling Commission. They emphasise compliance with the third licensing objective (protection of the young and vulnerable). These rules ensure that gambling advertising is not aimed at children or young people and that it does not leave vulnerable people open to exploitation and harm. 

3.3.1 The CAP Codes 

The CAP Codes relate to the rules governing non-broadcast advertising and the BCAP Codes relate to with broadcast advertising. Although separate codes, they do in fact, cover exactly the same ground and in most respects and in many cases the rules of each one are identically worded. 

Thus, the advertising rules set out below can be taken to apply to both forms of advertising for bingo clubs. 

Section 16 of the CAP Code deals specifically with Gambling and along with the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Gambling is an excellent quick reference document when considering any new Advertising or Marketing campaign. 

All 22 Code Rules are listed below and a link to Section 16 of the CAP Code is provided at the end of this section. 

Rules (the number references are the same as the CAP code):

16.1 Marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited. 

16.2 In line with rule 1.2, the spirit as well as the letter of the rules in this section applies whether or not a gambling product is shown or referred to. 

16.3 Marketing communications must not: 

16.3.1 portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm 

16.3.2 exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons 

16.3.3 suggest that gambling can provide an escape from personal, professional or educational problems such as loneliness or depression 

16.3.4 suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security 

16.3.5 portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments 

16.3.6 suggest that gambling can enhance personal qualities, for example, that it can improve self-image or self-esteem, or is a way gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration 

16.3.7 suggest peer pressure to gamble nor disparage abstention 

16.3.8 link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness 

16.3.9 portray gambling in a context of toughness or link it to resilience or recklessness 

16.3.10 suggest gambling is a rite of passage 

16.3.11 suggest that solitary gambling is preferable to social gambling 

16.3.12 be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture 

16.3.13 be directed at those aged below 18 years (or 16 years for football pools, equal-chance gaming (under a prize gaming permit or at a licensed family entertainment centre), prize gaming (at a non-licensed family entertainment centre or at a travelling fair) or Category D gaming machines) through the selection of media or context in which they appear 

16.3.14 include a child or a young person. No-one who is, or seems to be under-25 years old may be featured gambling. No-one may behave in an adolescent, juvenile or loutish way. 

Individuals who are, or seem to be under 25 years old (18-24 years old) may be featured playing a significant role only in marketing communications that appear in a place where a bet can be placed directly through a transactional facility, for instance, a gambling operator’s own website. The individual may only be used to illustrate specific betting selections where that individual is the subject of the bet offered. The image or other depiction used must show them in the context of the bet and not in a gambling context 

16.3.15 exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck 

16.3.16 condone or encourage criminal or anti-social behaviour 

16.3.17 condone or feature gambling in a working environment. An exception exists for licensed gambling premises. 

16.4 Marketing communications for family entertainment centres, travelling fairs, horse racecourses and dog race tracks, and for non-gambling leisure facilities that incidentally refer to separate gambling facilities, for example, as part of a list of facilities on a cruise ship, may include children or young persons provided they are accompanied by an adult and are socialising responsibly in areas that the Gambling Act 2005 does not restrict by age. 

16.5 Marketing communications for events or facilities that can be accessed only by entering gambling premises must make that condition clear. 

On April 1st 2019 CAP released new standards which aim to further protect children and young people from irresponsible gambling advertising. The link to the Guidance document is available at the Resource Centre

Do not use anyone in your marketing material that is, or appears to be, under 25. 
3.3.2 Free Bets 

There is particular concern amongst both the ASA and Gambling Commission about misleading advertising of free bets. However, these concerns could, on occasion be applied to free games in a bingo club. The ASA receives an increasing number of complaints about them. 

The majority of these complaints centre on unclear or unfair terms and conditions, particularly around the requirement for consumers to make a deposit to access their free bet and the number of times they must then wager their free bet and deposit money before they are allowed to withdraw any winnings. 

When considering any type of “Free” offer Operators should ensure that: 

Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. 

  • Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner. 
  • Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. 


  • Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. 
  • Qualifications must be presented clearly. 
  • Marketing communications must not describe a product as “free”, “gratis”, “without charge” or similar if the consumer has to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding and collecting or paying for delivery of the item. 
  • Marketing communications must make clear the extent of the commitment the consumer must make to take advantage of a “free” offer. 
  • Marketing communications that include a promotion and are significantly limited by time or space must include as much information about significant conditions as practicable and must direct consumers clearly to an easily accessible alternative source where all the significant conditions of the promotion are prominently stated. Participants should be able to retain those conditions or easily access them throughout the promotion. 
If you advertise something as “free” ensure you understand what this means. Is it really “free” or is a purchase required? Are your terms fair and clear? 
3.3.3 The BCAP Codes 

All additional codes not covered under the CAP codes and are as follows: 

  • Radiocentre Clearance – Radio broadcasters must ensure that advertisements for gambling are centrally cleared. 
  • Advertisements for events or facilities that can be accessed only by entering gambling premises must make that condition clear. 
  • broadcast advertisements for bingo may not be aired in or adjacent to children’s programmes or programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18. 
3.3.4 Guaranteed Prize Money 

At one stage or another all bingo operators have advertised a “Guaranteed Prize”, probably accompanied by a disclaimer within the Terms & Conditions. There is no restriction or indeed no guidance on Guaranteed Prizes other than ensuring that the Terms and Conditions and specifically any disclaimer are not unfair. This is obviously open to interpretation. 

All operators should consider the wording of any “guaranteed prize” promotion extremely carefully before going into print. The idea of massive monetary wins will quickly gain the attention of potential players, but should the offer be withdrawn, for whatever reason, it may well attract the attention of the Advertising Regulator equally as quickly. 

You may wish to consider legal advice before offering any substantial Guaranteed Prize 

3.4 General Data Protection Regulation 

The General Data Protection Regulation, more commonly known as GDPR, was introduced in May 2018 and is designed to modernise laws that protect the personal information of individuals. 

All bingo operators should be mindful of how they collect, use and store data, with particular emphasis on how any personal data is used for Marketing & Advertising purposes, whether it be by direct mail; text message, email or telephone. 

The Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR) sits alongside GDPR and contains specific rules relating to the use of cookies and all modes of electronic marketing and communication. 

Links to the Information Commissioners website and their guides to GDPR and PECR will be found within the Resource Centre

3.5 The Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act 2014 

Under this legislation only gambling operators licensed by the Gambling Commission are able to advertise to consumers in Britain or to provide them with remote gambling facilities. This simplifies the position for carriers of gambling advertising who will need to ensure they only permit gambling operators licensed by the Gambling Commission to advertise in Britain. 

It is also a requirement that all operators need to obtain their gambling software from holders of a Gambling Commission software licences and therefore software suppliers will need to be licenced by the Gambling Commission. 

This Act came in to force on 1st November 2014 and was updated in March 2015. A link to the Act will be found at the end of this section. (See Resources Centre

Marketing & Advertising is an integral part of any bingo business – but are your terms fair and clear?