ASA upholds complaint against betting tipster over irresponsible Instagram post

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against betting tipster’s irresponsible Instagram ad.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a warning to the betting tipster service, Thebettingman, after ruling that an Instagram post was not labelled as an advert and the content was irresponsible.

The ad

The post in question received one complaint back on 2 June 2020 and was an Instagram story in which the former Love Island contestant, Sam Gowland, posted about Thebettingman.

In the post, Gowland said that if followers “wanted to make money the betting man is the way forward.” He went on to say that if his followers were to pay £25, they would gain access to a VIP group for betting tips.

The reality television star went on to say he was “450 quid up this weekend and over £1k up for the week.” He also said this was the “best second source of income I’ve ever had… hence the new car I’m getting… not bad for £25”

Gowland also said that by joining the VIP group, followers would “watch the profits roll in like the rest of the members.”

The complaint argued that the post had not been marked as a marketing communication and that it was irresponsible for suggesting using a tipster service as a way of achieving financial security.

The complaint also suggested that the ad contained an individual under the age of 25 to promote a gambling advice service, which is not permitted under the UK gambling regulations. At the time the post was made, Gowland, was 24 years old.

Responding to the complaint, TBM Enterprises, the company behind the tipster service, said it did not ask Gowland to post the story. However, the company admitted that the post should have been labelled as an advertisement and included the hashtags #gambleresponsibly and #18+

Gowland also responded to the complaint, saying it was a promotional post and he had subsequently read the ASA’s guidelines and in the future, he would label similar communications as adverts.

The ASA’s ruling

Despite the acknowledgement from TBM and Gowland, the ASA upheld all three parts of the complaint.

When it came to not labelling the post as an ad, the ASA said it understood that Gowland was promoting the service and told followers how to access the service. However, these elements alone did not indicate the post was a marketing communication before users engaged with it.

The ASA said that it acknowledged both Gowland and Thebettingman understood the story post should have been labelled as an ad. However, the ASA ruled the story was not obviously identifiable as a piece of marketing and there it breached CAP Code Rules 2.1 and 2.3 which cover the recognition of marketing communications.

Referring to the aspect of the complaint that argued the post was irresponsible because it suggested a way of achieving financial security, the ASA said that while the service was not a form of gambling, the purpose of the service was to facilitate gambling and therefore it assessed the ad with that in mind.

The advertising body cited the claims Gowland made about his winnings and the statement that the service was his “best second source of income.” The ASA considered that this implied people would regularly win large sums of money in a short space of time.

As Thebettingman’s main purpose is to facilitate gambling, the ASA ruled the post was irresponsible and breached CAP Code rule 1.3 which covers social responsibility.

On the complaint about Gowland’s age, the ASA acknowledged that Gowland was 24 at the time of post and as the ad was for a service to facilitate gambling, it breached CAP Code rule 1.3 on social responsibility

In conclusion, the ASA ruled the advertisement must no longer appear again in its current form, and that Gowland, TBM and Thebettingman must ensure future ads are identifiable as marketing material. In addition to this, the ASA said ads must not suggest that using tipster services are a way of achieving financial security.

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