Dan Iliovici

A proposal on “Responsible Gambling Communication”

By Dan Iliovici, Vicepresident, ROMBET

At the beginning of 2018, during the period when I was in charge of the National Office for Gambling, I published the Code of Ethics for responsible communication in the field of gambling.

As I mentioned in the previous article, About (less) responsible marketing, most of the reactions from some representatives of the operators were to reject this initiative.
I also said in last month’s article that it is a first step to raise awareness among operators about the “responsibility” in gambling marketing, but without establishing a mandatory regulation. The main fear seems to have been the prospect of “escalating”.
I would also point out that calls for self-regulation have become more frequent, with authorities in several states calling for voluntary compliance with such communication codes developed in various European countries, but also in the United States and Canada.
It would have been interesting to see the reactions to this proposal if the proposal had come from an industry association. Before presenting the most important provisions of the Code of Ethics, I think it is good to mention that we had as sources of inspiration communication codes developed in various European countries, and not only.
Finally, I come back with another important issue: advertising and promoting a legally conducted activity, as is the case with licensed operators, is legitimate. But it matters a lot how it is put into practice, without losing sight of the fact that the promotion must take place “(…) in compliance with the principles of protection of minors and responsible participation in gambling.”*1

The preamble of the Code states:
“This set of rules constitutes a set of self-regulatory rules regarding commercial communication in the field, based on which gambling organizers are to adapt their practices so as to ensure that they are in accordance with the established criteria. in these rules of conduct.”

The rules of commercial communication are based on:
■ European Commission Recommendation of 14 July 2014 on the principles underlying the protection of consumers and users of online gambling services and the prevention of access by minors to online gambling 2014/478 / EU
■ European standard of 11 November 2016 on advertising and publicity in the field of gambling
■ The code of practice in commercial communication adopted by the Romanian Council for Advertising, on 08/26/2016.”


Following is a set of Basic Principles for Business Communication in the Field of Gambling. It should:
■ be legal, decent, honest and real;
■ to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable persons;
■ address an adult audience in a responsible and appropriate manner;
■ to respect the principles of
fair competition;
■ be not unethical;
■ to observe the general standards of decency and common sense;
■ not to question human integrity and dignity.

Advertising placement is the chapter that focuses on the protection of minors:
■ The communication is addressed exclusively to persons over 18 years of age;
■ The communication that takes place on channels owned by gambling organizers, such as the websites of brand websites, downloadable content, direct mailing, own events, etc., must take place in such a way as to indicate, without no doubt that they are addressed exclusively to persons over 18 years of age;
■ The communication made through the communication media that do not belong to the organizers of gambling, regardless of the channel used, will be made by placing – through the care of the organizers – in the areas, pages, real or virtual, in the time slots in which, for the communication channel respectively, assurances can be given that at least 90% of the audience is over 18, or the channel is intended exclusively for adults;
■ For the communication placed in the digital media, through the care of the gambling organizers, the implementation of an active age verification system will be carried out; it will be present on the home page of the websites of the brands (operators / organizers) or their partners (affiliates), regardless of the form of the agreement underlying their partnership relationship. The free downloadable content and advertisements must include instructions for those who use that material, which state that they have no right to distribute such material to persons under the age of 18;
■ The communication placed in the written media, regardless of the form or way of presentation, will not be included in the formats addressed to minors, or in the pages addressed to them;
■ The communication will not be made in the premises, or in the vicinity, of the establishments of culture, health, art, with social character, religious cults and others like that;
■ Communication in any printed form is not distributed / displayed during events addressed to minors, or in which their participation is allowed.*2

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As I have repeatedly pointed out, the provisions of the Code are not a “letter of law”. The best and applicable formulas must be found through discussions with all stakeholders (operators, regulators, authorities, media representatives, etc.) so as to ensure compliance with the principles set out from the outset.

Continued in the next issue of Casino Life & Business Magazine.

*1. Article 6 para. 7 of the Norms for the application of GEO 77/2009.
*2. The original text is slightly modified for better clarity of expression.

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