UK Gambling Commission successfully reduces ads on torrent sites

UK gambling Commission reduces torrent adsThe UK prides itself on a regulated and trustworthy gambling industry as proven by a recent operation between its regulator and the local police.

The UK Gambling Commission and the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) teamed up last year to crack down on illegal websites which offer pirated television shows, movies, books, music and other content.

While torrent sites, especially the major ones such as Pirate Bay, are becoming increasingly unavailable to Great Britain users, many can still gain access via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

The PIPCU’s main focus is to reduce access to these sites infringing copyright laws under Operation Creative, which was launched in 2013. It was established to put an end to the revenue sources for the illegal websites which impact negatively on the country’s creative industries.

Many of these sites are thriving due to advertising revenue and in 2016 it was revealed a strong proportion of UK-licensed gambling operators were inadvertently funding these sites via their ads.

As a result, the PIPCU called upon the country’s gambling regulator to help put a stop to these advertisements appearing on the illegal platforms.

A year later, research performed by global data company, whiteBULLET, has revealed the partnership has resulted in an 87 percent decrease in advertisements by licensed operators.

By teaming up with the Gambling Commission, PIPCU has helped stop around 40 licensed gambling operators from unintentionally funding these websites.

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“The success of a strong relationship built between PIPCU and the Gambling Commission can be seen by these figures,” Head of the PIPCU and Acting Detective Superintendent, Peter Ratcliffe said.

“This is a fantastic example of a joint working initiative between police and an industry regulator.”

Around 40 online casinos and other gambling companies are using the PIPCU-controlled Infringing Website List (IWL) to ensure they do not advertise on any of the listed illegal websites. The IWL is accessed by police approval and every website featured has infringed copyright laws and is regularly used by advertisers to generate revenue.

“We will continue to encourage all UK advertisers to become a member of the Infringing Website List to ensure they’re not inadvertently funding criminal websites,” Mr Ratcliffe added.

The licensed gambling operators began to actively avoid advertising on these sites after the Gambling Commission changed its advertising rules in October 2016.

Licensed operators must now ensure they do not advertise on these sites. They must also take the correct measures to ensure contracted third parties follow the same regulations.

The changes coincide with the UK Gambling Commission’s objective to “keep crime out of gambling”. The UKGB recently hit BGO Casino with a $300,000 fine over a series of marketing campaigns that breached “social responsibility rules”, marking the biggest financial penalty issued by the Commission. An investigation has also been launched into online poker giant, 888.

Gambling Commission programme director, Paul Hope, said the regulator’s mission is why the “requirement that all operators must not place digital advertisements on websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content” was introduced.

The Gambling Commission has been actively raising awareness in regards to the new regulations and Mr Hope added that “the result of this latest initiative speaks for itself, and we are delighted with these figures.”

Gambling operators have been very compliant with the new regulations and CEO of whiteBULLET, Peter Szyszko, believes it is because they “now recognise the damage to brand equity associated with advertising on illegal websites and don’t want their ad budget supporting criminals.”

He noted the effectiveness of the IWL and added that “brands and ad companies now have tools to protect themselves and consumers.”

CEO of the UK Intellectual Property Office, Tim Moss, praised the partnership revealing the Gambling Commission and PIPCU “have cut off yet another illicit revenue stream for unscrupulous IP thieves.”

“The government and its partners will continue to fight IP crime in all its forms,” Mr Moss added.

“Those wishing to profit from the hard work of others will not have an easy ride.”