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The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has agreed on the voluntary removal of all gaming product advertising as part of its response to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Existing TV and radio advertising slots will be replaced by safer gambling messages, donated to charities or removed from broadcast where contracts permit.

Last month, BGC introduced a 10 pledge action plan which set out the standards expected of its members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new measure comes despite a drop in online revenue of up to 30% and total member revenue down by up to 60%.

All operators will implement this change on or before May 7. The commitment will remain in force for 6 weeks and at a minimum until June 5.

BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said:

“From day one of this crisis we have sought to protect customers potentially at risk, including announcing stepping up safer gambling measures as part of our ten pledges for covid-19 in March. This latest move by the regulated industry further underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming with many people cut off and feeling anxious.

“We have been working closely with our member companies since this crisis began to monitor the impact of betting and gaming. There hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online as some had predicted – in fact, the opposite is true with total revenue down by up to 60 per cent. Overall gambling levels have also fallen significantly as a result of betting shops and casinos closing and the suspension of live sport. And whilst advertising levels on sports and casino are also down, again contrary to some assertions, we recognise that removing product advertising will act as a further safeguard during covid-19.

“This major announcement by our members will result in the removal of half of all product advertising on TV and radio. I hope now that other major gambling operators like the National Lottery follow our lead.

“Throughout this crisis, as the new standards body, the BGC has worked very closely with the Government. Ministers and the regulator all deserve credit for their steadfast and consistent determination to have an evidence-led approach and to rightly call for higher standards. There will always been alarmist noises from anti-gambling prohibitionists who just want to grab headlines, but it is this serious, constructive and evidence-led approach by the BGC’s regulated members that has resulted in this further major change.

“We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers potentially at risk during this lockdown period and beyond – and we are determined to drive the high standards that the public expect from us. I hope others follow our lead.”