Sky is planning to slash the number of gambling ads it carries in the wake of growing unease over gambling addiction and the amount of betting in sport.

The pay-TV company will set a limit of one gambling ad per commercial break on all its channels from the start of the Premier League season next August, Campaign has reported.

As many as four betting ads are currently shown during each break. Ad spots on Sky Sports for in-play betting during live matches are in especially high demand.

The one-slot-per-break rule will cover all channels Sky sells ads for – including Channel 5, owned by Viacom – and will apply to all forms of gambling, including online poker and bingo.

Sky is also planning to give viewers the option of blocking gambling ads altogether from June 2020, Mediatel reported, as Sky plans to develop its Adsmart technology to allow blocking across more than 140 Sky and Virgin Media TV platforms, including Sky Sports.

The announcements come as the gambling industry faces increased pressure to tackle the problem of gambling addiction. It already faces a government crackdown on fixed-odd betting terminals in betting shops, for which the maximum stake allowed will be reduced from £100 to £2.

Sky’s new one-ad-per slot policy is expected to cost it millions in lost revenue. TV gambling advertising is estimated to be worth around £200m in revenue per year, with Sky believed to control almost half of that market.

But the financial effects are hard to assess: the Daily Telegraph noted that gambling ad slots on Sky Sports are auctioned and a restricted supply could drive up bidding.

“Our customers are worried about gambling ads on TV – and we understand their concerns,” said Stephen van Rooyen, chief executive of Sky’s UK arm. “That’s why we’ve committed to limiting the amount of gambling ads on Sky and better protecting those vulnerable to problem gambling.”

He added that restrictions should be introduced to gambling ads carried online by Google and Facebook, which are currently almost completely unregulated.

There have also been calls for an outright ban on TV advertising before the 9pm watershed. High Street betting companies, such as Ladbrokes, say this would even out the advantages enjoyed by online-only rivals, like Bet365 and Betfair.

Sourced from Campaign, Mediatel, Telegraph; additional content by WARC staff