The ASA has ruled on two separate gambling ads in the UK.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from Coral but has decided to reject a complaint against Ladbrokes.
The coral ad
The complaint against Coral revolved around a Tweet from the operator’s account in March 2020 as part of a promotion for the Cheltenham Festival.
The text in the tweet said: “We’re as passionate about the bet as you are. So, get your stake back as a free bet if your horse fails to finish.” The tweet also consisted of a video captioned “Have Another Go.”
The video included horses racing with text that said “Strong, fast, relentless, riderless” with a jockey about to fall off of his horse. This is followed with text on screen and a voiceover that said, “Get a free bet back with Fail to Finish” and after this a disappointed man in the video smiles. A similar version of the ad appeared on television.
The complaint received by the ASA argued that the advert was irresponsible. The operator said that it did not believe the ad was irresponsible and the promotion was a “form of insurance” on the bet which is common in the industry and is not designed to encourage repetitive play. Coral also argued that customers did not have to take the offer up or pay to qualify for it.
Coral also argued that the text in the tweet was intended to “highlight the prize of the promotion while keeping within a certain character count and without encouraging socially irresponsible behaviour.”
The ASA ruled that the ad broke rule 16.3.1 of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code). This code states that adverts must not “portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.”
In its ruling, the ASA said: “We considered that the claim ‘Have another go’, together with the video ad which featured a man whose mood was instantly lifted following a free bet back, gave the impression that the decision to gamble had been taken lightly and was therefore likely to encourage some consumers to take up the offer repetitively.”
As a result of the ruling, the ad must not appear in its current form and the ASA warned Coral not to advertise their promotions in a way that would encourage repetitive gambling.
The Ladbrokes ad
The ASA also received and rejected a complaint about a television ad for Ladbrokes which was broadcast on 29 February 2020.
The Ladbrokes ad features characters that take part in scenarios similar to casino games in their everyday lives, such as a man filling his car up with petrol and stopping the price on £77.77. Another part of the ad saw a woman spinning a round clothing rack of red and black dresses, like a roulette table. Another part of the ad involved a mans saying “hit me” to request more fillings be added to his sandwich.
According to the ASA, five viewers made complaints about the ad on the grounds that it portrayed gambling as “taking priority in life” which is forbidden under rule 17.3.4 of the CAP Code.
Ladbrokes argued that the advert was meant to “demonstrate the excitement of gaming in a metaphorical way which exaggerated real life” as part of a “fun parody.”
The operator said that the instances in the advert “did not suggest that gambling took precedence over the characters’ work or other daily activities” and noted that the gambling comparisons did not interrupt the characters’ routines.
Ladbrokes said: “There was no reference to gambling or any suggestion that the characters would rather be gambling than undertaking their usual tasks.”
Clearcast, the broadcast advertising watchdog, which cleared the ad for broadcast on television, said that while the characters in the ad saw gambling analogies while going about their lives, they were “not shown to get in the way of their lives and took no precedent.”
The watchdog said that gambling comparisons were “nothing more than humorous reminders of the mechanics and routines of gambling and gaming.”
The ASA ultimately rejected the complaints and agreed with Ladbrokes and Clearcast’s assessment of the ad.
In its ruling, the ASA said: “The ASA considered that while the characters were depicted as momentarily reminded of gambling and engaged in that analogy of the situation, they were not so distracted that they didn’t continue with those tasks.
“We also considered that the brief scenarios depicted did not present gambling as indispensable or imply that it took priority in any aspect of the characters’ lives.”