A partnership between the Gambling Commission and the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has seen a significant reduction in adverts of licensed gambling operators being displayed on illegal websites offering pirated access to content such as films, books, music, games and sports.
In 2013, PIPCU launched Operation Creative in partnership with the advertising and creative industries, to protect both industry and UK consumers. That same year it also set up the Infringing Website List (IWL) – an online portal containing a current list of copyright infringing websites. The IWL is available to partners of Operation Creative, who can subscribe to the list and take steps to actively refrain from placing adverts on these illegal websites. The primary aim is to disrupt the advertising revenue of these infringing websites and prevent the production of criminal profits. In a 2014 report, the Digital Citizens Alliance estimated that, in 2013, infringing websites generated $227million from advertising alone.
In October 2016 the Gambling Commission formally made the responsible placement of digital adverts a licence condition (licence condition number 16.1.1) for gambling operators. This condition requires licensees not to place adverts on websites which supply unauthorised access to copyrighted content. Further still, gambling operators must take all reasonable steps to ensure that third parties under contract with them also adhere to this and do not advertise on pirate websites on behalf of the gambling operators’ brands. This is just one of the ways the Gambling Commission is showing its commitment "to ensuring gambling is free from crime” according to Paul Hope, programme director for the Gambling Commission.
The success of this partnership is sizeable and evidenced by the most recent statistics. The data company, WhiteBULLET, has gathered data on 40 UK gambling licensees who subscribe to the IWL indicating that there has been an 87% drop in adverts for licensed gambling operators being displayed on illegal websites in the past 12 months.