IMGL Magazine April 2022


Tread wisely Simon Planzer PhD , Editor in Chief

In our last edition I advised those responsible for setting tax policies to carefully consider the unexpected consequences of policy making ( “Cool Heads and Evidence”, January 2022 ). In this issue, I raise a similar plea towards regulators who may feel under pressure from politicians and special-interest groups demanding that “something must be done” to tackle gambling advertising. Delegates to the IMGL-sponsored World Regulatory Briefing heard from regulator after regulator setting out details of new marketing restrictions which they had either implemented or were under consideration. It was left to industry representatives to ask whether there was evidence that such bans would indeed reduce gambling-related harm. In one interesting debate on channelization, it was pointed out that the opportunity to legally promote nationally-licensed products was one of the few advantages enjoyed by the licensed sector over their unlicensed competitors. Certainly, worse advertising behavior by unlicensed competitors cannot serve as excuse for poor advertising

practices among license holders. But we are still left with a problem: where advertising restrictions result in far-reaching bans on licensees marketing their products, it reduces the business incentive to invest in the significant cost of licensing. Losing that incentive may quicky lead to lower rates of channelization, which in turn are likely to jeopardize the achievement of important public policy goals that are enshrined in national gambling laws. There is yet another important aspect to such bans or far-reaching advertisement restrictions, an aspect well understood by professionals with a background in competition law. That is the notion of the ‘level playing field’. New, smaller market entrants are likely to suffer more from advertisement bans than large brands which are already well established in the market. The former have a much greater need to rely on their commercial freedom of speech to successfully introduce their products to consumers. Other policy makers recognize that there are new and different threats on the horizon. They look at the explosion



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4 • IMGL Magazine • April 2022

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