Latest updates on lottery advertising

01 December 2020
Raffles and LotteriesGovernance and Compliance
Standard Content
A picture of lottery balls

In this blog, Sam Boyle looks at what the changes to the guidance on lottery advertising involving young people and children mean for charities and fundraisers.

At the end of October, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) amended two rules in the lottery section of their respective codes. This came about as the result of a consultation last year which looked at the rules around the inclusion of young people and children in advertisements for lotteries. The consultation proposed two amended rules which sought to continue protections for children in the advertising of lottery products, whilst enabling charities to link their calls of support to young beneficiaries.

Under the Code of Fundraising Practice, fundraisers must follow these standards and the new rules will have an impact on how charities are able to advertise, so it is worth getting familiar with the new wording and what it means for your organisation.

What was the issue and what has been changed?

Prior to last year’s consultation, the rules around including under 25-year olds in lottery adverts were very strict. Children and people under the age of 25 could only be included in a significant role if the advert exclusively focused on the cause and did not include an ask to purchase lottery tickets or products. The premise behind this was to stop advertisers from targeting children and to prevent them from wanting to participate in lotteries. Whilst 16-year olds can take part in a lottery, CAP and BCAP determined that children may look up to adults under the age of 25 and this presents a risk of harm.

However, there was a problem identified by charities in the consultation. The rules, as they existed, made it difficult for charities supporting young people to fundraise effectively. Many charities and fundraisers don’t have the budget to run separate ads promoting their cause and to make a fundraising ask via a raffle.

This was also problematic because, as any fundraiser will tell you, the ask and cause are intrinsically linked.

Fortunately, it appears that the ASA and BCAP have taken on board this feedback. They have amended the rules so that charities can promote under 25-year olds in a significant role in their ads to highlight the cause and promote ticket sales, provided that under 25s in the advert are representative of the beneficiaries of the lottery. The Chartered Institute supports and welcomes this approach, where a charity works for younger people, it is important that supporters can get a fair and clear idea of who their donation benefits.

To take an example, a fundraising advert for a children’s hospice, featuring children talking about the cause and urging people to buy a raffle ticket would be now be in line with the rules (provided it wasn’t asking children to buy tickets of course!). However, if the same children were used for an advert for a lottery for an adult hospice this would breach the rules.

This doesn’t not apply to all draws though and the regulators have made it clear that more addictive and higher risk activities including scratch cards and online instant-wins are not included in the changes. The rules will prohibit adverts of these activities which include under 25-year olds in a significant role.

When do the new changes come into effect?

The rule change allowing organisations running a lottery for the benefit of children to purchase tickets and promote under 25-year olds is now in effect, so fundraisers and charities  work in line with the new change to the guidance.

The new restrictions on scratch cards and instant-win lottery products will come into effect in six months’ time on 26 April 2021, so any advertisements from this date will need to meet the new rules.

As with any new rules, only time will tell if the changes are effective. The regulators have said that they will review the amended rules in 12 months’ time so there may be scope for further conversations.

Were there any other important outcomes from the consultation ?

The most frequently raised complaint about the rules was how the term ‘significant role’ is defined. During the consultation organisations said that they found the term to be imprecise and to open to interpretation. As a result, there were concerns from charities and other organisations that they couldn’t be totally confident that they were meeting the requirements.

CAP and BCAP have reflected on this and it’s great to hear that they going to issue new guidance for the lottery sector which will explain this further. The guidance will need to be clear and helpful and we will look at it in more detail when it is published.

Sam Boyle
Sam Boyle
Information and Policy Officer at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising
Members Only Content