British Broadcaster Sky TV Voluntarily Cuts Number of Gambling Ads

Posted on: November 7, 2018, 12:13h. 

Last updated on: November 7, 2018, 12:13h.

Major British broadcaster Sky TV has announced it will dramatically restrict the amount of gambling advertising allowed on its airways.

Sky TV
Sky TV, which owns a stake in bookmaker Sky Bet, will voluntarily curb the number of gambling ads shown. (Image: Breaking Views)

Starting in August 2019 — just in time for the kickoff of the English Premier League season — Sky will permit only one gambling ad per commercial break. That’s a dramatic decline from the up to four promos which can currently appear every time a live sporting event throws to a commercial.

Our customers are worried about gambling ads on TV – and we understand their concerns,” stated Steven van Rooyen, CEO of Sky  TV, which is owned by the US-based cable provider Comcast.

The self-imposed ruling by Sky comes at a time of mounting pressure for the British gaming industry. UK lawmakers recently decided to dramatically slash the betting limits on controversial and highly lucrative fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). But that change didn’t come fast enough for UK Minister of Sport Tracey Crouch, who resigned her position last week, outraged that the government decided to delay the changes.

The new broadcasting restrictions will apply to all forms of gambling –not just sports betting — including online casinos, bingo, and poker.

Costly Decision

The company’s self-imposed rules are expected to cost it tens of millions in lost ad revenue. Ever since the Labour government eased regulations around gambling advertising in 2007, British airwaves have been inundated with TV spots.

A study by Nielsen suggested that the industry invested £1.4 billion ($1.84 billion) in gambling advertising from 2012 to 2017. The amount spent on ads for sports betting specifically hit $127 million in 2016 alone. 

The company will take the restrictions even further come 2020, when new technology will allow its viewers to choose whether or not they want to be subjected to gambling commercials.

Of course, Sky TV has some skin in the game itself and has directly profited from the country’s gaming boom. It owns a stake in bookmaker Sky Betting and Gaming, the controlling interest of which was sold to the Canadian-based Stars Group, formerly known as Amaya for $4.7 billion this summer.

Industry Backing

The move to clamp down on the number of TV spots on UK airwaves has found backing from some major players in the gaming industry.

Kenny Alexander, CEO of GVC Holdings, which owns Ladbrokes Coral — one of Britain’s biggest book makers — has previously agreed that there are “undoubtedly far, far too many adverts” shown during soccer matches.

According to The Daily Mail, he experienced clarity on the issue after visiting gambling rehabilitation centers.

The vast majority of people who come to our websites have a very enjoyable experience,” Alexander said. “But it can be dangerous and it can be destructive. We take this very seriously.”

Now that Sky TV has voluntarily made the decision to limit gambling ads, there is pressure on broadcaster BT TV to follow suit.

“While we already limit the number of gambling [ads] shown on our channels,” BT responded in a statement, “we will continue to review our approach to bookmakers advertising.”