Romanian National Office for Gambling (NOG) issues a Code of Ethics on Responsible Advertising

The Code of Ethics on Responsible Advertising sets out certain “soft-law” recommendations to gambling operators about responsible advertising. The Code has no normative or mandatory effect at present. Nevertheless, NOG expects gambling operators to “freely adhere” to these recommendations, although there are no sanctions currently. NOG urges gambling operators, the public, and any interested NGOs to make proposals and suggestions for improvements in its regulations.

The Code reiterates the basic principles about commercial advertising for gambling, such as

  • The advertising must be legal, decent, honest and truthful;
  • The advertising must ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable individuals;
  • The advertising must be targeted at an adult audience in a responsible and adequate manner; and
  • The advertising must be ethical and respect general standards of decency and good morals.

The Code also introduces novel, interesting, and potentially consequential recommendations, including:

  1. Product placement rules
  • Advertising, whether it is in online media, on the operator’s website, or in traditional (written) media, must make it clear that it is addressed solely to individuals over 18 years of age;
  • Advertising in digital media by gambling operators should implement an active system of age verification;
  • Advertising in traditional (written) media must not be in formats that are traditionally addressed to minors or targeted at minors;
  • No advertising for gambling may be performed in, or in the proximity of, cultural, health, arts, social, religious, or similar facilities; and
  • No advertising for gambling may be distributed or publicised during events that are addressed to minors, or where the participation of minors is permitted.
  1. 2. Responsible gambling
  • “Responsible gambling” messages must be included in any promotional materials, irrespective of the advertising medium. This message must include details about how to obtain information on the concept of “responsible gambling” (links and locations for further information);
  • Any commercial communication must encourage responsible gambling and must be clear and not misleading or confusing;
  • Advertising for gambling must not encourage gambling in a manner that could lead to compulsive behaviour (by indicating, for example, that frequent gambling may increase chances of winnings);
  • Advertising for gambling must respect everyone’s option not to gamble by refraining from negatively portraying a person’s decision not to gamble or to gamble moderately; and
  • Any association with, or allusion to, alcoholic drinks, must be avoided.
  1. Protection of minors
  • The content of advertising and marketing materials promoting gambling must be designed so as not to attract minors by not including elements portraying children or images, symbols, music, characters, cartoons or celebrities which may be attractive to individuals under 18 years of age;
  • Gambling advertising must not undermine parental authority, and must not be promoted in a manner suggesting a link between gambling and proof of maturity, or portraying gambling as a rite of passage to maturity;
  • The presence or image of celebrities–models, actors, renowned athletes, etc.—should not be used for gambling advertising;
  • Symbols, logos, trademarks, etc. Of gambling operators must not be associated with clothing, toys, games or sporting equipment, or any other goods which are (or can be) addressed to minors; and
  • Advertising for gambling should not exploit the credulity or lack of experience or knowledge specific to minors.
  1. Health and education
  • Advertising for gambling should contain at least one note of caution referring to social responsibility;
  • No impediment or condition (such as a minimum duration of the game, a minimum amount of money gambled, etc.) Should be employed that would affect players’ decisions to stop gambling;
  • Advertising for gambling must not suggest that gambling is a solution to financial problems, or portray gambling as a method of enrichment or a form of financial investment;
  • It must not suggest that excessive loss has no negative consequences, or mislead players into believing that continuing to play will increase their chances of winning;
  • There must be no suggestion that the player’s abilities or experience may eliminate (or reduce) the “random” element of the game;
  • Advertising for gambling must not recommend perseverance in gambling; disparage  the idea of abstinence, or suggest that gambling is a more attractive alternative to work and study;
  • There must be no suggestion that gambling improves personal abilities or social recognition, or any association made between gambling and the idea of physical attraction or sexual success; and
  • Advertising for gambling must not promote anti-social behaviour.

Stratulat Albulescu - Attorneys at law