Whistle-to-whistle ban needs further consideration

By Matthew Enderby

The voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban was agreed and announced in December 2018. The plan was to implement it during the following summer and the measure took effect during this year’s Ashes series.

The initial reaction was positive; sporting events were no longer punctuated with updated odds and operator slogans.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) receives far fewer gambling-related complaints and third quarter results have not indicated any dip in operator revenue brought on by the ban.   

Between the announcement and implementation, the industry worked hard to repair its public reputation. Shirt sponsorship places were given up, compliance measures were raised and financial donations were made to charities.

Unfortunately for many operators, a lot of these were seen as publicity stunts without any meaningful intent. The same thoughts were expressed over the whistle-to-whistle ban.

Operators are moving their advertising online, where the potential to target and tailor marketing campaigns is far greater. Giving up time on TV screens would therefore not be entirely damaging to a major company, with an already established reputation.  

After the ban commenced during the Ashes, another sport event provided further limitations of it. The Rugby World Cup was held in Japan this year, with games starting as early as 6:45am in the UK.

While this lands outside of watershed hours, it prompts questions over the scope of the ban.  

During the 2014 World Cup, held in Brazil, matches often started after 9pm in the UK. This would have made them fair game for operator advertisements and undermined the value of the whistle-to-whistle ban.

The voluntary measure has taken the industry in the right direction but further steps are needed to make sure it hits targets and is effective.

The full feature on the whistle-to-whistle ban will be available in Gambling Insider’s January/February magazine, including comments from John Hagan, Chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling. Click here to read the article when published.


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