CAP and BCAP consultation on stricter rules for gambling ads: response from the Fundraising Regulator

In January 2021, we responded to a consultation hosted by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) which focused on changes to their rules and guidance on gambling and lotteries advertising to limit their potential to appeal to and adversely impact under-18s and vulnerable adults. 

Our response is in the form of a letter addressed to the regulatory policy team, as below. You can find information about the consultation on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) website.

Dear Regulatory Policy Team,

About the Fundraising Regulator

The Fundraising Regulator is the independent non-statutory regulator of charitable fundraising undertaken by or on behalf of charitable, philanthropic and benevolent organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We also regulate fundraising in Scotland carried out by charities primarily registered in those three countries. Our role includes maintaining and developing the UK-wide Code of Fundraising Practice (the code) and investigating complaints from members of the public about fundraising practice where these cannot be resolved by the charities themselves.

The mission of the Fundraising Regulator is to carry out its independent and non-statutory regulatory role in a way that:

  • protects the public, donors and potential donors, not least those who may be vulnerable, from unacceptable fundraising practices;
  • enhances public trust and confidence in the charitable sector generally and with particular regard to charitable fundraising;
  • supports the sector to understand and carry out its responsibilities in engaging with the public, creating a positive donor experience;
  • ensures consistent fundraising standards across the UK.

We work in partnership with other regulators and representative bodies in the charitable and fundraising sectors to build public confidence and ensure consistent fundraising standards across the UK.

Our interest

Many charities and charitable causes use lotteries and other gambling-based fundraising (including raffles, tombolas, sweepstakes and some other activities) to raise funds to support the delivery of their charitable aims. We regularly receive questions from both fundraisers and members of the public about gambling-based fundraising activity. In 2019-2020, lotteries constituted the third most asked about method of fundraising for our enquiries service. 

The Code of Fundraising Practice sets out the responsibilities that apply to all charitable fundraising in the UK. Two areas in particular cover fundraising standards relevant to the matters arising in the current consultation:

  • Section 9 (Fundraising communications and advertisements); and
  • Section 12 (Lotteries, prize competitions and free draws)

Where appropriate, the code refers to the additional legal and regulatory requirements expected by relevant bodies (including the Committee of Advertising Practice, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice and the Gambling Commission).

The Gambling Commission is responsible for ensuring all gambling activity meets the requirements of the Gambling Act 2005. The Fundraising Regulator’s commitment to working towards best practice standards in the area of gambling-based activity is set out clearly in our joint Memorandum of Understanding with the Gambling Commission.

Our response

We understand the proposed exemptions outlined in part (a) of section 6.4.4. to mean that the advertising of lotteries and other gambling-related fundraising activity for charitable causes is exempt from the proposed ‘strong appeal’ rule. Part (b) of section 6.4.4. goes on, however, to state that the exemption would ‘not include any factor which … would be likely to render the ad of “strong appeal” to under-18s’ (p. 26), which would seem conversely to indicate that the proposed ‘strong appeal’ rule still applies to ads which meet the exemption criteria outlined in part (a) of the same section. 

Whilst we welcome the consideration of the specific ways in which charities operate, advertise and benefit from lottery fundraising, there may be a need to offer clarification on part (b) of section 6.4.4. This qualification of the proposed exemptions may cause confusion for the sector and the public, and how this exception affects the proposed exemption for good causes may require further explanation in order to avoid any confusion.

Finally, we welcome the proposal to enhance protections for vulnerable adults in section 6.6. As set out in sections 1.3.8 and 1.3.9 of the Code of Fundraising Practice, we expect that any fundraising activity (including the advertising of that activity) must not exploit those in vulnerable circumstances (due to, for example mental health, age, disability and financial difficulty) who may not be able to make an informed decision.

If you would like to discuss any of these points in more detail, please do get in touch. In the meantime, I look forward to our organisations continuing to work together closely in future.

Yours sincerely, 

Gerald Oppenheim

Chief Executive

Fundraising Regulator