In fact, advertising is a matter of principle. The advertising of gambling operators reveals their true face, as well as their commitment to gambling business key principle, that is, the protection of society and players.
It should be noted that the special law on gambling clearly defined, I would say, the value framework for gambling advertising: “Gambling advertising should not give the impression that it is easy to win, or that gambling can be a source of income or an alternative to work.” To be honest, some gambling operators failed to follow these principles. However, it is not my job to give public lectures, but to explain the risks: if one of the gambling operators goes nuts with respect to advertising or slogans (which is unacceptable), such operator’s actions may in fact put the entire market on the line. A shadow of mistrust is cast on the entire industry and all other gambling operators, which ultimately leads to the deterioration of the reform image.
It is obvious that the State itself initiated the legalization of gambling, and it is logical that it will not allow anyone to cast a shadow on such a complex reform. Let us remember critical attitudes towards the legalization of gambling when for the first time in 2019 it was proposed for consideration. Many did not believe that the reform would take place, but its first stage – the creation of the market and unshadowing of the gambling business – was implemented. All that remains is to develop and implement the principle of social responsibility.
It is not surprising that the State, within its institutions and departments, is establishing advertising controls. A recent example is a Memorandum concluded between the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (CRGL) and the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection. According to the Chairman of CRGL, this Memorandum aims to help state authorities “monitor the activities of gambling operators, advertisers, as well as manufacturers and distributors of advertising”, which may violate the law in terms of advertising activities. CRGL has every right to such cooperation with a specialized body, since, according to paragraph 13 of Article 8 of the special law, the Gambling Commission “shall interact with state authorities, local governmental bodies, public institutions, and other organizations, in the exercise of its powers.” Typically, such Memoranda establish specific cooperation mechanisms between the parties, ranging from consultations to the use of all of the resources available under the powers to terminate activities violating the law.
Today, even the most cunning actors will probably understand that the times when it was possible to get away through legal loopholes are gradually coming to an end and that the time comes when the State will be very demanding of protection of the social responsibility principles. It is important to remember that paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the special law determined the framework for the State’s activities in the field of gambling: the goal of the state policy for organisation and conduct of gambling is to create conditions to reduce social risks associated with the latter. This legal and conceptual framework is crucial for gambling operators since it is a reference point for the entire market, which guides the implementation of various events and activities.
In general, CRGL’s efforts to strengthen control over gambling advertising are welcomed. I believe that over time both the State and the public will eventually raise the issue of strengthening the functions of the Gambling Commission in the field of advertising at the legislative level. Otherwise, it looks like CRGL is responsible for imposing fines, but it has no individual powers to control advertising. However, again, the situation is not critical, since the market has been operating for only 3 months, and in mid-May 2022 it will be possible to go into greater detail with regard to the State’s achievements and areas requiring increased efforts. The country and the gambling business go through a natural process of market creation and the beginning of its development.
Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman of theUkrainian Gambling Council, exclusively for the “Ukrainian News”