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How to promote and advertise your gambling business in highly regulated markets

March 21, 2024
12 min
488

The gambling industry is often tightly regulated, especially when it comes to advertising. While these restrictions are an obstacle for marketing teams, with some hard work and ingenuity, they can still reach their audiences. Read this article to learn more about gambling promotion in highly regulated markets.

The iGaming industry is growing rapidly.

According to data from Statista, the global online gambling market is expected to be worth $107.3 billion by the end of this year, and $138.1 billion by 2028.

From established markets like those in Europe to emerging markets like those in Africa and Latin America, revenues are soaring, but with great profits comes great responsibility — in this case, the responsibility to follow advertising regulations set by regulators concerned about vulnerable populations.

And the general trend is more advertising regulations, not fewer.

Online gambling sometimes faces severe limitations or complete bans, even in nations where land-based casinos are legal. Even outside historically conservative nations, there is a general trend toward more stringent regulation; liberal nations like Georgia and Lithuania have made substantial adjustments to tighten oversight of gaming operators and advertising strategies.

Countries throughout the EU are slowly harmonizing their gambling regulations, and CIS countries are also actively improving the regulation of the iGaming market, with special attention paid to strict regulation in the field of advertising. Governments argue that stricter advertising restrictions are not intended to stifle the growth of the industry, but rather are necessary measures for effective industry oversight.

Types of legislative regulation of gambling advertising

Advertising regulations can vary dramatically from country to country depending on its legal status and cultural attitudes toward the practice. However, in most countries with a regulated gambling industry, there are some common general principles of advertising regulation.

Prohibition of advertising to minors

Many jurisdictions prohibit gambling advertising that targets minors. Laws and regulations vary, but usually include provisions explicitly prohibiting the solicitation of minors for gambling. These regulations are intended to protect young audiences from the temptation to gamble and to prevent the normalization of such behavior at a young age.

Advertising content requirements

Ads are often obliged to include prominent statements or disclaimers that highlight the risks of excessive gambling and encourage people to bet sensibly. \

Another important content requirement is the prominent placement of a notice stating that gambling is only for adults who have reached a certain age. Advertisements should clearly state the applicable age limits and emphasize that participation in gambling is strictly prohibited for minors.

Time and place restrictions

In many countries, regulators impose strict limits on when and where gambling advertisements can appear. These limitations are intended to minimize the risk of underage gambling and to ensure that gambling advertising doesn’t target vulnerable populations.

Licensing and regulation of advertising

Some jurisdictions require permits or special licenses to advertise in the gambling industry. Authorities strictly control this process and take punitive action against those who violate the rules. Penalties for non-compliance can range from heavy fines to the revocation of advertising licenses.

In addition, regulators can monitor the content of advertisements to protect players from being deceived or misled.

Prohibition of deceptive or aggressive advertising

Regulatory frameworks often include provisions prohibiting the use of misleading or aggressive marketing tactics.

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Such laws protect players from fraudulent advertising and manipulative techniques used by gambling operators. Advertising companies are required to adhere to strict guidelines to ensure the fairness and transparency of their promotional materials. Regulatory bodies have the right to inspect promotional messages for abuses and hold violators accountable, including through fines or license termination. Enforcing these rules supports the integrity of the gambling industry. Advertisers need to prioritize ethical advertisements and comply with existing legislation in order to build and keep the trust of their audiences.

Each country that regulates gambling has its own approach to advertising. Some ban it entirely, some allow some forms of ads but not others, and some allow advertising but only at certain times of day.

Advertisers and operators should closely follow all changes in legislation to ensure compliance with all requirements and to effectively promote their products in compliance with the regulations.

Martin Calvert, Marketing Director at ICS-digital and ICS-translate, actively followed the changes and shared his opinion about the gambling advertising regulation:

I think sometimes having real restrictions on activities is needed to make marketing practices evolve more quickly and responsibly. The range of marketing activities in the industry is enormous – some brands are at the leading edge of innovation, while others are deeply traditional. I think the main thing is to focus on strategies that a.) fit well with your brand and b.) still deliver the results needed.

Making good judgements about marketing depends on understanding your target audiences and, where possible, responding to their wants, needs and queries in an efficient and clear way.

In this respect, responsible gambling fits well with online marketing, content and SEO best practice.

More on this topic: How to promote an online casino in 2024 part 1: acquisition
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Consequences for illegal gambling advertising

The penalties for advertising an illegal casino in regulated gambling markets can vary significantly.

In some cases, violations may result in criminal offenses, especially if the violations are serious or repeated. In such cases, criminal charges may be brought against the individuals or organizations responsible for the illegal advertising. These charges may include a range of offenses, including fraud, deceptive trade practices, or violations of specific gambling laws.

It is important for advertisers and gambling operators to understand the potential consequences of non-compliance with promotional guidelines, as criminal charges can have serious consequences, including fines, imprisonment, or other punitive measures.

Fines are one of the most common penalties for illegal gambling advertising in gambling regulated countries. These fines can vary dramatically depending on the laws of the jurisdiction, as well as the severity of the offense.

License revocation or suspension is a serious penalty that can be imposed on licensed gambling operators or advertising agencies for using illegal advertising practices. These examples illustrate how regulators use their powers to enforce advertising regulations and maintain the integrity of the gambling industry.

In cases of illegal gambling advertising activities, authorities can seize assets, profits, or proceeds obtained unlawfully. Seizure of assets not only deprives wrongdoers of ill-gotten gains but also acts as a punitive measure to discourage future violations.

In conclusion, advertising infractions carry significant consequences that extend beyond mere financial penalties. From fines and criminal charges to license revocation and asset seizure, authorities employ a range of measures to enforce compliance with advertising regulations and uphold the integrity of the gambling industry.

Advertisers and operators must recognize the potential ramifications of non-compliance, including the risk of criminal liability and the loss of assets or licenses. It is imperative for stakeholders to remain vigilant and proactive in ensuring compliance with regulations to avoid the severe penalties associated with illegal gambling advertising.

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How gambling advertising is regulated in different countries

Lithuania

In 2021, the Lithuanian government implemented a comprehensive prohibition on the promotion and advertising of gambling activities through any means, including television, banners, and external advertising channels. Additionally, the government prohibited operators from offering players incentives such as free spins or bonuses.

These restrictions extend to both offline and online gambling promotions and were implemented in response to a surge in gambling activity during the pandemic. The stringent regulatory measures reflect the government's commitment to addressing concerns about the potential negative impacts of excessive gambling.

To enforce compliance with these regulations, the Lithuanian regulator imposes hefty fines on operators found to be in violation of advertising laws.

Latvia

In Latvia, the promotion of gambling activities is strictly regulated, with allowances limited exclusively to land-based casinos. Operators are permitted to advertise solely by displaying the name of the casino, the organizer, and the official trademark. It is also prohibited to offer participation in gambling for free, as a gift or prize. Furthermore, advertising gambling activities through television, external channels, or any other promotional means is strictly forbidden.

Estonia

Estonian operators enjoy significant freedom in advertising their gambling services, with television and free streaming platforms being particularly favored channels for promotions, often utilized during nighttime hours. This leniency extends to casinos, which have the liberty to advertise bonus offers, promotions, and their own brand without significant restrictions.

However, it's essential for operators to exercise responsible advertising practices to ensure player protection and regulatory compliance. While Estonian regulations afford operators considerable freedom, adherence to ethical advertising standards remains imperative to maintain the integrity of the gambling industry and safeguard the interests of players.

Finland

Finland maintains a stringent stance on gambling advertising, with legislation prohibiting promotions across various mediums including radio, television, online platforms, and public spaces. The authorities maintain strict surveillance over advertising activities, particularly targeting operators lacking a local license.

These measures are designed to safeguard citizens' access exclusively to services provided by Veikkaus, the state monopoly, while curbing the proliferation of illegal gambling services from foreign operators. Fines for violations of these regulations within the country are substantial, reflecting the government's commitment to enforcing compliance and maintaining the integrity of the gambling industry.

Italy

In 2019, the government implemented a sweeping ban on all forms of gambling advertising in the country. This legislation prohibits both direct and indirect promotion of gambling services through all available information channels, including television, radio, print media, the internet, and any other public platform.

Additionally, the initiative extends to banning sponsorship in soccer, prohibiting the placement of logos, merchandise, or the use of other marketing tools associated with gambling. However, operators do have one option for notifying players about jackpots, odds, bonuses, and other special offers: direct communication with customers, such as SMS.

Spain

In Spain, stringent regulations have been implemented to restrict almost all forms of gambling advertising, including sponsorships. The only exception is during late-night hours, from 1:00 to 5:00, where live broadcasts are permitted to feature gambling advertisements. Furthermore, welcome bonuses were prohibited starting from 2020.

Belgium

The Belgian government took a decisive step to combat addiction and debt associated with gambling by instituting a comprehensive ban on gambling advertising across multiple platforms starting from July 1, 2023. This prohibition extends to television, radio, cinemas, magazines, newspapers, public spaces, and even online advertising on websites and social media.

Additionally, the government plans to implement further restrictions, including banning ads in stadiums from January 1, 2025, and prohibiting gambling companies from sponsoring professional sports clubs, such as soccer teams, from January 1, 2028.

The decision to enact this ban is grounded in scientific research highlighting the detrimental effects of gambling advertising, including its role in fostering addiction and contributing to gambling-related debt.

Denmark

According to Danish law, gambling advertising is permissible within the country's borders, provided it does not target minors. Operators are required to highlight that gambling is primarily intended for entertainment purposes, rather than as a means of making money. Moreover, when featuring prominent individuals in their advertising campaigns, operators must refrain from conveying the notion that gambling played a significant role in their success.

To regulate the marketing activities of operators effectively, Denmark has established a Gambling Advertising Council. This council serves as a regulatory body, overseeing advertising practices and accepting complaints from consumers regarding potentially misleading or inappropriate advertisements. By maintaining strict guidelines and providing a platform for consumer feedback, the Gambling Advertising Council plays a vital role in ensuring that gambling advertising in Denmark remains responsible, transparent, and compliant with regulatory standards.

Sweden

In Sweden, all forms of gambling and betting are permitted, along with advertising for them. However, under the Marketing Act, only games and lotteries licensed in Sweden are eligible for advertisement. The promotion of betting and gambling activities is overseen by Hallå konsument, a nationwide information service managed by the Swedish Consumer Agency.

Experts from CasinoRIX, Slotegrator’s media partner, comments:

When launching projects in such markets, the main task is to thoroughly study all the requirements from local regulators - whether licenses for affiliates are required and what restrictions or rules exist for operations and advertising. Then, it's essential to constantly monitor possible changes and amendments to comply with all provisions.

It's not enough to know which tools and traffic channels to use; for example, to promote on social networks, one needs to delve deeper into prohibitions at the legislative level and understand the social responsibility of all your actions.

Additionally, it is necessary to maintain constant communication and exchange experiences with your partners to reduce the chances of mistakes.

Creating a marketing strategy for gambling advertising

With all the rules in place, it may seem difficult to create a compliance-focused marketing strategy in a highly regulated industry. However, it’s not impossible.

One of the first items that should be on your to-do list if you want to develop working strategies for a highly regulated market is to conduct thorough market research — and your first stop is your target market’s regulatory framework. Make sure you know exactly what you can and can’t do, and then keep tabs on it, as new regulations could roll out at any time.

Strict regulations shouldn’t discourage you — if you decided to operate in a regulated market your strategy might not include TV advertisement, however some channels often stay unregulated and remain the most effective:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Bonus policy can be based on internal data analysis
  • Affiliate marketing proved to be effecting in the iGaming industry
  • Players’ positive reviews follow high quality player support
  • Social media campaigns can be set and adjusted according to your target audience

This is how Martin Calvert comments on the marketing channels:

For some markets, operators already have a dependence on paid media and the affiliate channel – but they haven’t always worked as true partners with their affiliates. Perhaps given their need for high quality traffic, there will be more incentive to work more collaboratively with partners in the affiliate channel. Of course, given what we do at ICS-digital and ICS-translate, I’m always enthusiastic about the potential for organic SEO and targeted content to bring players directly in an efficient and scalable way – but not every operator is well-equipped to capitalize on this potential.

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You should also analyze competitors’ marketing approaches and monitor how they navigate regulatory compliance. Seeing how other companies are innovating to market effectively while maintaining compliance could help inspire your team to develop new strategies, and in some cases provide an example of what not to do.

How can Slotegrator help?

Choosing where to base your iGaming enterprise can be daunting. Thanks to more than a decade of experience in the industry, our jurisdictional advisory services can help you pick the right market for your business needs and assist you in acquiring all the necessary licenses.

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