Affiliates - 10 Steps to staying Compliant



Gambling is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the UK, with the guidelines constantly evolving to adapt to technological advances, ethical concerns, and the political climate.

Sarah Harrison became the Chief Executive of the UKGC in November 2016, and announced a new sharper focus on consumers and operators in gambling. Marketing companies and operators are now under increased pressure, and have to conduct more audits than ever before, to ensure they stay compliant.

As an operator or a marketer, there are a myriad of compliancy measures you must adhere to, in order not to fall foul of the gambling commission, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), and its broadcasting equivalent, BCAP.

If you’re an affiliate working an establish network such as ActiveWins, your account managers will keep you right.

However, it’s still a good idea to keep track of the various sanctions and restrictions which are imposed across the industry. A compliancy failure could cost you commission and, in the worst case scenario, termination of contract with the affiliate program.

With this in mind, we’ve created a handy checklist, so you can check yourself that your content is compliant

  1. 18+/ Age isn’t just a number

Underage gambling is a serious concern, and something which has been increasingly under scrutiny over the past couple of years. Websites which advertise gambling are required by law to clearly display the 18+ logo, and advise that gambling underage is an offence.

However, the age restrictions don’t just apply to displaying your 18+ logo.

Nothing regarding gambling must appeal to children. This is a very subjective area, so you need to be careful. As a rule, images must not depict any character or real person who is, or looks to be under 25, so if your banner depicts a real footballer for example, you must check his age. Any images which look too youthful must be ‘aged up’ with the addition of wrinkles, grey hair etc. Written content is subject to the same sanctions, so no childlike language.

  1. Appropriate images

This is two parts common sense to one part care and attention to detail. If you are advertising free bets, don’t use an image of cash. If the offer relates to casino and sports, don’t include bingo related imagery. You also can’t use any images which fall foul of the other restrictions, such as displaying sex or violence, but we’ll deal with that in another section.

  1. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Since the Mad Men heyday, advertising has been used to sell us products, by first selling us a dream. If we buy that lipstick, or spring for the leather interior, we’ll embody certain traits, we’ll be more fun, more attractive in every way, and ultimately it will change our lives.

Gambling cannot deal in this kind of wish-fulfilment.

No TV advert, banner, or piece of content can imply that gambling will enhance any physical attribute, or that it will have a ‘life-changing’ effect on you. A good example of this is the series of ‘life ads’ produced by Ladbrokes which featured a set of characters with nicknames to represent what kind of bettor they were. There were 98 complaints, and the ASA deemed the ads non-compliant as they portrayed an irresponsible attitude to gambling. The ads were removed.

  1. Location, location, location

As of October 2016 the LCCP introduced a new license condition regarding the placement of digital advertising, namely that gambling adverts could not feature on any copyright sites (torrent and streaming sites). Normally a strong revenue generator, operators have been forced to stop advertising in these forums or they take the risk of a breach of compliance, enforced fines or worse, the loss of a license.

  1. Social responsibility

That leads us nicely into social responsibility. Just as you can’t imply enhanced attractiveness through gambling, you can’t encourage players to see it as an escape from their real-world problems.

At no time can gambling be portrayed as a ‘solution’ either to money worries or loneliness/depression.

It can’t be depicted as a source of stable income, and should never be advertised as ‘safe for work’.

Peer pressure is another factor here. You need to be very careful with wording. Even ‘join in’ can be an inflammatory statement, if combined with other factors which imply a sense of missing out or not being part of the crowd.

  1. Sex can’t be sold

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘sex sells’ and it’s a cliché for a reason. However, as gambling is seen as a high-risk and potentially addictive pastime, it cannot be linked with any other similarly controversial product or subject. No sex, violence and or links to alcohol must be made, either visually or in print.

  1. No false exclusivity claims

You cannot advertise an offer as ‘exclusive’ unless it is unique to you. Neither can you imply a rush, or sense of urgency where there is none, as this is both misleading and irresponsible. Again, it creates a sense of ‘missing out’ and could be seen as peer pressure.

  1. Don’t exploit cultural beliefs

Around the world there are many beliefs and superstitions that can leave people vulnerable to suggestion. For the Chinese, the number 8 is deemed to be lucky. Therefore you would need to be careful not to draw any links between betting on the 8th day of the 8th month for example, or betting more on that day.

  1. Update

If you are the member of an established affiliate network, such as ActiveWins, you will have access to new creatives designed to help you promote new offers and new games. However, if you host your own banners, you are responsible for making sure they are up-to-date, and not advertising an old offer which no longer exists. This would not only be misleading to your site visitors, it will likely result in a drop in your conversions. We would recommend always using the designs provided by the affiliate program, to ensure you stay creative compliant.

  1. Opt Out

Players can never be made to feel trapped or harassed. If they don’t want your newsletter you must give them the option to opt out. Similarly, if they no longer wish to be a member of the site, they are free to leave, and this must be made clear to them.

Finally, T&Cs always apply.

Terms and conditions must be no more than one click away. They should be clear and concise, with no room for misinterpretation.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and the goalposts move all the time. However, it’s a good place to begin if you want to have a better understanding of the dos and don’ts of compliance.

The full CAP guidelines for the gambling industry can found online, but if you’re still not sure, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your account manager via email: [email protected]