If you are an operator of regulated gambling products, draws or competitions, it is almost inevitable that you will use social media advertising to promote your business. Facebook and Instagram advertising is now so crucial that access to advertising on these platforms can make or break a business.
However, social media companies are becoming increasingly cautious about advertising, to ensure that they do not promote unlicensed gambling, or gambling to under 18s. Payment providers are often similarly cautious about who they deal with. Therefore, making sure you are aware of the legalities before you set up your adverts means you are less likely to encounter problems in the future.
What are Facebook and Instagram’s policies on gambling adverts?
The Facebook & Instagram Real Money Gambling Policy states:
“Adverts that promote or facilitate online real money gambling, real money games of skill or real money lotteries, including online real money casinos, sport books, bingo or poker, are only allowed with prior written permission. Authorised gambling, games of skill or lottery adverts must target people over the age of 18 who are in jurisdictions for which permission has been granted.”
How can operators prove their social media advertising is lawful?
A significant number of operators are now being asked to prove that their activities are lawful. This is particularly the case for free draws and (some) skill competitions, which do not need to be licensed in Great Britain and may fall outside of the definition of “gambling” in the Gambling Act 2005.
Operators looking to advertise on social media will usually be asked to complete an “Initial Request for Information” or “Online Real Money Gaming Onboarding Application Form”. The form states:
“If you will be advertising a skill-based game, please provide a written opinion from qualified outside legal counsel that your game complies with all legal requirements in the jurisdictions in which you operate or allow game play. If you will be advertising a gambling site operating pursuant to a gaming license, we reserve the right to request additional information from you regarding your compliance with applicable law.”
Below are some key points to be aware of when filling out this form:
- Advertising needs to be approved for specific jurisdictions, with proof that the activity is legal in that jurisdiction. For the UK, the jurisdiction can be selected as “United Kingdom” (which includes Northern Ireland), “Great Britain” (which does not include NI), England, Wales or Scotland. The relevance of this is that Northern Ireland is not covered by the Gambling Act 2005 and has separate (and rather archaic) gambling legislation.
- Skill-based games and “free” draws (e.g. paid draws where there is a prominent free entry route) will usually require a written legal opinion from a qualified lawyer in that jurisdiction, confirming that the activity is legal. Bear in mind that competitions involving minimal skill (e.g. multiple choice or simple answers) are often unlawful.
- Licensed gambling operators can provide a copy of their licence covering the jurisdiction where they intend to advertise and do not need a legal opinion. However, questions may be raised about whether the licence provided authorises activity in that jurisdiction.
Having a social media advertising account refused can have significant consequences: advertising will be turned off immediately. It can often be very difficult to overturn a refusal in these circumstances, so it’s important to get the application right in the first place.
The Keystone gambling team have recently been seeing an increase in operators needing legal advice in order to prove their social media advertising is lawful. If you need any advice about prize competitions, free draws or any other promotional marketing and advertising, please get in with Richard Williams using the details below.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.