An ad posted on Instagram for Rank Group-owned Mecca Bingo must not appear again in current form after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled it breached UK advertising codes.

The advert was originally posted in August 2023 and featured RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Baga Chipz (pictured).

It featured one image of the drag queen not smiling and wearing plain, dark clothes with no make-up, alongside a second image in which the character held up a champagne glass and bore a happy expression, red sequinned outfit, jewellery and a full face of make-up.

Text above the images said “Before playing Mecca Bingo vs after playing Mecca Bingo,” while a caption on the post stated: “A good game can transform you! Don’t you just love that post-bingo glow.”

ASA response

Two complainants referred the ad to the ASA, saying that it suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem, and therefore breached UK advertising standards for gambling.

The ASA determined that indeed, the juxtaposition of the two photos presented the character as having a higher level of confidence and an enhanced self-image as a result of playing bingo.

Further, the caption’s suggestion that a game of bingo may “transform” players “created an impression that an individual could improve their self-esteem, as well as their self-image, by not just playing bingo related games, but also by winning them.”

The ASA therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached advertising codes.

Mecca Bingo defence

Mecca Bingo Ltd said it believed the ad did not suggest gambling could improve personal quality or enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem.

It said its goal was to offer customers “an exciting and entertaining experience,” and that the purpose of the ad was therefore to convey that its services were fun and entertaining.

The use of a “before and after” structure, as well as references to a “post bingo glow” and the word “transform”, were used to convey the sense of enjoyment related to bingo rather than to suggest the game could alter a person’s self-image, it said.

It added that Baga Chipz had risen to fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, and that such language was regularly used on the programme meaning “viewers of the ad would be aware of that context and therefore would not take any reference to transformation literally.”

Rather, the juxtaposed images of the drag queen would simply reflect “a highly exaggerated portrayal of the emotions a person would have after enjoying the entertaining environment of a Mecca Bingo venue,” it argued.

The operator also said it deliberately omitted any reference to winning at bingo, in order to avoid suggesting that the “feel good” factor of the game could only come from winning.

Mecca Bingo acknowledged, however, that the ad could have been misinterpreted if viewed without understanding of its context.

It added that it would ensure future marketing conveyed its messaging more clearly, and confirmed it had permanently removed the Instagram post.

Three tweets posted by Betfred and featuring boxer Anthony Joshua must not appear again after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) deemed them to be of strong appeal to under-18s.

The tweets were published in March and April 2023, and featured videos of the former heavyweight champion being interviewed on various topics including his diet, how he prepared for fights and his mentality when fighting.

The ASA considered whether the ads were likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s, and concluded that they were due to Joshua’s large social media following, which included a relatively high number of followers under 18 years of age in absolute terms.

Betfred response

Betfred presented several arguments to challenge whether the ads were likely to be of strong appeal to children.

The operator pointed out that Joshua was a former world champion boxer whose activities were almost exclusively limited to boxing and his sporting career.

It also acknowledged that Joshua was “undoubtedly a star in the sport of boxing,” but that he was reaching the end of his career and posed a low risk of appealing to children.

In terms of Joshua’s general profile, Betfred said he had not appeared on any form of reality TV, and that the companies with which he held brand deals such as Under Armour, Beats by Dre and JD Sports, had universal appeal and were well-known brands regardless of his endorsement.

Betfred also provided data showing that under-18s made up less than 1% of those brands’ social media followings.

As for Joshua himself, Betfred acknowledged his extensive social media presence and media profile but said this stemmed almost exclusively from his sporting career, not from any other activities which may be of strong appeal to under-18s.

Social media data showed that 0% of Joshua’s followers on X, Facebook and TikTok were registered as being between 13 and 17.

Elsewhere, however, 5% of the boxer’s Snapchat followers and 6.6% of Instagram followers were registered as being underage.

Overall, Betfred argued that Joshua had 29.3 million followers worldwide, with 1.1 million or 3.85% being under the age of 18.

This, Betfred argued, meant he had an overwhelmingly adult following online.

Further, the operator added that only UK social media data should be considered in this case, and that assuming the 3.85% global rate of under-18s was reflected in the UK, around 280,000 of Joshua’s UK followers were under 18.

Betfred argued that was not a significant number of followers in absolute terms.

In addition, the operator pointed out that boxing is an adult-orientated sport unlikely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.

It said Joshua’s fights were usually shown late at night, mostly on a pay-per-view or subscription basis and were not directly available to anyone under 18.

ASA rejection

In response, the ASA accepted much of what Betfred argued, including that boxing is an adult-orientated sport and that the number of children participating in the sport is low.

That reflects a previous ruling made by the Authority, which determined in June that a bet365 ad featuring boxer Chris Eubank Jr. was not likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.

In this case, however, special consideration was given to Joshua’s large social media following and, in particular, the number of under-18s who follow him.

Based on his extensive media and social media presence, the ASA determined that Joshua was in the “moderate risk” of strong appeal to under-18s category.

While the proportion of his followers aged under-18 was low, his large number of followers in absolute terms still left him with over a million underage followers worldwide, it said.

It added that Betfred’s assessment of the number of followers aged under 18 in the UK was not necessarily accurate (did not necessarily reflect the proportion of followers under 18 worldwide), but that even if it were accurate, the boxer would have at least 280,000 underage followers in the UK.

That, the ASA considered, was a significant number in absolute terms.

“We therefore considered that because he had such large numbers of social media followers who were under 18, Mr Joshua was of inherent strong appeal to under-18s,” the ASA concluded.

Joshua vs. Eubank Jr.

The conclusion has raised eyebrows across the sector, not least for its comparison with the ASA’s previous decision on an ad featuring Chris Eubank Jr.

Speaking to, partner at Northridge Law LLP Melanie Ellis said: “The latest ruling from the ASA does raise questions, as Chris Eubank Jr. and Anthony Joshua are figures who quite likely have a similar overall popularity with under 18s, both being 33-year-old successful professional boxers.

“The distinguishing factor was their total number of social media followers who were aged under 18, which was considered by the ASA to be the relevant figure, rather than the percentage of their total followers who were under 18. 

“The ASA is placing a high degree of importance on a sports person’s social media presence as a barometer of their appeal to under 18s, where in reality this figure will primarily reflect the individual’s general level of engagement on social media.

“This approach would make sense if the advert in question appeared on their own social media accounts, but arguably falls down when the advert appears elsewhere,” Ellis concluded.

A promoted tweet for Sky Bet featuring former footballer Gary Neville has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for breaking rules on gambling advertising.

The tweet, posted on 9 February, contained an embedded video clip from The Overlap football podcast, a YouTube series sponsored by Sky Bet and produced by Neville.

The video showed Neville discussing which team might win the Premier League this season.

Sky Bet’s logo appeared throughout the video, which ended with text stating: “Brought to you by Sky Bet”.

The ASA ruled Neville was “likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s” and therefore breached the advertising code.

Sky Bet, however, disagreed and said it will be seeking an independent review of the case.

Sky Bet’s arguments

The company said the podcast was “distinctly adult in tone and did not feature any content of a childish nature”.

It also argued that Neville’s professional playing career had ended nearly 12 years ago, in 2011, when today’s 18-year-olds would have been just five or six years old.

Sky Bet added that Neville was now more widely recognisable as a football pundit, political commentator and successful businessman.

The firm also assessed his profile, including his social media profile, before publishing the tweet. 

According to Sky Bet, Neville had around 5.5 million Twitter/X followers as of March, of which 1% were aged 13 to 17.

Assuming the 1% were all UK-based, Sky Bet said that equated to just 0.39% of the UK’s total population of under-18s.

He also did not have active public personal accounts on YouTube or Twitch.

Moreover, the company added that Neville was 47 years old at the time the tweet appeared, and that his social media profile was consistent with his mature age.

ASA’s reasoning 

The ASA acknowledged that Neville was “now more likely to be widely recognised as a TV sports pundit” rather than a football player. 

However, it added that the guidelines “classed retired footballers who had moved into punditry as likely to be of ‘moderate risk’ of strong appeal to under-18s”.

The ASA therefore assessed the tweet on the basis of Neville’s social and other media profiles.

The regulator pointed out that although Neville didn’t have active public personal accounts on YouTube, Twitch, or Snapchat, he regularly posted on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter/X.

While specific numbers for under-18 followers on TikTok and Facebook weren’t available, the ASA noted that of Neville’s 1.6 million Instagram followers, 5% were registered as under 18, totalling 80,000 users. 

In addition to his 55,000 under-18 followers on Twitter/X, the ASA concluded that he had a minimum of 135,000 social media followers who were under 18 years old.

The ASA further determined that this represented a substantial number in absolute terms, making Neville inherently appealing to the under-18 demographic.

The regulator instructed Sky Bet that the tweet in its present form should not be used again and cautioned Sky Bet against featuring individuals or characters with strong appeal to those under 18 years of age in their future advertising.

“Flawed process”

A spokesperson for Sky Bet parent company Flutter Entertainment said: “We fundamentally disagree with this decision and the flawed process which led to this outcome – it defies both precedent and common sense.

“The ASA did not receive a single complaint from the public or wider stakeholders about the social media post in question.

“We will be seeking an independent review of this case while we consider other options open to us.”

An Instagram post featuring Manchester United midfielder Mason Mount has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The image was uploaded by freebetsdotcom, a sports betting affiliate brand owned and operated by XLMedia.

Coming of age

The regulator’s CAP code states that no one under the age of 25 should play a significant role in marketing communications for gambling.

Two complainants pointed out the post was in breach of regulations as England midfielder Mount is still only 24, having been born in 1999.

The ASA said it was “irresponsible” to feature someone under 25 in the marketing material.

“Although we acknowledged that freebetsdotcom’s service was not itself gambling, using it would place consumers in a position where they would be interacting with gambling services,” said the ASA in a ruling.

The ASA ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form and referred the matter to the CAP’s compliance team.

Right to reply

XLMedia failed to respond to any of the ASA’s enquiries regarding the prohibited ad.

The regulator said it was “concerned” by the lack of response and “apparent disregard” for the rules.

It reminded the company of its responsibility to respond promptly to regulator questions.

BetVictor, bet365 and Ladbrokes have all fallen foul of ASA guidelines on gambling advertising in 2023 for using footballers and managers in marketing material.

An advert for the People’s Postcode Lottery must not appear again in current form after suggesting gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled.

Ad details

The advert in question appeared in print in the Daily Mail on 1 July this year. It featured an advertorial with a headline, photo and further text describing the plans of a couple who had won a prize on the lottery.

The headline read: “Couple’s wedding is back on after they scooped £62,500 on People’s Postcode Lottery,” alongside another bubble stating “we had to postpone the wedding when Craig lost his job.” 

A photo of the couple holding a cheque for their winnings was accompanied by more text, providing further detail on the plans for their winnings.

“An NHS nurse and her fiancé, who had to put their plans to wed on hold when one of them was made redundant, are celebrating after winning People’s Postcode Lottery’s Millionaire Street prize,” the text read.

Other references to the couple’s situation, including that they had just paid the deposit for their wedding before finding out that one of them had been made redundant, were made.

“We had to put the wedding on hold because we didn’t know how long he’d be out of work. Awful thoughts go through your mind,” the text added.

It also referenced the fact that Craig, who had been made redundant, had just started a new job.

A complainant asked the ASA to determine whether or not the advert suggested that participating in a lottery could be a solution to financial concerns, thus breaching UK regulations on gambling advertising.

Operator response

In response, the People’s Postcode Lottery argued that the ad did not present lotteries as a solution to financial concerns, as it did not suggest the couple had been struggling financially before winning the prize.

While references to one member of the couple’s redundancy were made, the operator argued that as the only material financial impact of the prize was to be the resumption of their wedding plans – usually a large discretionary cost – it had not suggested gambling was a solution to serious financial difficulties.

The ad “did not present the couple as suffering from financial hardship, such as being unable to pay for day-to-day expenses such as food or bills,” People’s Postcode Lottery argued.

It is common, the operator further suggested, for gambling ads to highlight large wins enabling customers to buy items such as homes or cars, which would otherwise require them to save up large amounts of money.

The suggestion that the featured couple’s win allowed them to resume their wedding plans was more analogous with that kind of advert, it argued, rather than showing the couple using their winnings to overcome serious financial difficulties.

The Daily Mail added that it was not aware of having received any complaints about the advert.

It said it did not believe the ad implied that participation in the lottery was a way to achieve financial security, and did not suggest the couple had changed their lifestyle as a result of the win.

ASA assessment

The ASA ruled overall that the ad did suggest participating in a lottery was a way to solve financial concerns, and thus breached the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing (CAP Code).

It considered that the ad suggested a direct connection between the couple winning the lottery and being able to resume their wedding plans.

It also suggested that the couple had continued to play the People’s Postcode Lottery after one of them had been made redundant.

Crucially, the ASA considered that the text: “We had to put the wedding on hold because we didn’t know how long he’d be out of work. Awful thoughts go through your mind,” suggested the couple had been stressed about the repercussions of not being able to pay for the wedding after the redundancy.

As the ad also made reference to the couple having previously paid a deposit for the wedding, the ASA said it implied the couple were financially committed to the decision, and that the ad suggested therefore that winning the prize had provided a solution to their financial concerns.

The ad must not appear again in its current form, and the ASA has reminded the People’s Postcode Lottery not to imply that participating in a lottery can be a solution to financial concerns.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled two more gambling ads seen on Twitter to be “of strong appeal to children.”

In January and February this year, Entain-owned Ladbrokes published two promoted tweets featuring managers from top-flight football clubs.

One tweet featured two images of Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe, while the other offered odds on the “next manager to leave,” alongside images of David Moyes, Frank Lampard, Brendan Rodgers and Gary O’Neil.

Ladbrokes response

Ladbrokes said the first tweet was intended as editorial content, as it contained no calls to action, promotional offers or links directing customers to its website.

It added that Eddie Howe’s online presence and career record had been considered when making the post, providing links to relevant Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, each of which had fewer than 1,000 followers.

The operator concluded therefore that “because Eddie Howe had a modest online presence and much of his managerial career had been spent outside of the Premier League, it was unlikely that he would appeal strongly to under-18s.”

The second tweet, Ladbrokes acknowledged, was commercial in nature and should not have included imagery of the managers.

The brand has since “taken steps to ensure that content of that nature would be reviewed more thoroughly to ensure future ads would comply with the advertising rules,” it said.

ASA response

The ASA upheld challenges against Ladbrokes on both counts.

“Managers of Premier League football teams were considered high risk” under UK advertising rules, it said, in terms of how likely they were to appeal to under-18s.

It argued its point due to the popularity of football among young people, given it is “an activity in which a very significant proportion of under-18s participated directly on a frequent basis, and had a general interest in through following professional teams and players across a variety of media.”

The managers featured in Ladbrokes’ ads were, at the time of publication, “all current Premier League managers and would be well known to those who followed football, and in particular fans of the clubs they managed, including children. 

“We considered based on those factors, that all five managers were likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s,” the ASA added.

Even considering Eddie Howe’s extremely limited online presence – whereas social media popularity has been cited as a high-risk factor in previous ASA rulings – the assessment could not be overridden, the authority said.

The ruling comes just one week after the ASA banned another Ladbrokes ad, featuring boxer and social media influencer Jake Paul.

Despite boxing being considered an adult-oriented sport, the authority ruled that Paul’s large following among under-18s meant he was “of inherent strong appeal” to children, and should not be used in gambling ads.

In another boxing-related ruling made recently, the ASA dismissed a complaint about a bet365 ad featuring Chris Eubank Jr., who was not considered to be of strong appeal to under-18s.

Additional ruling

The ASA also published an additional ruling today (12 July), against online bingo brand Lights Camera Bingo, which is owned and operated by Jumpman Gaming.

On the brand’s website, when customers left to open another tab in their browser, a message saying “Hey! Come Back!” appeared in the open tab, in the place of the website’s name and logo.

Lights Camera Bingo said “the intention and only purpose behind the message was to alert a customer that the website had not been closed.”

The ASA ruled, however, that the wording of the message could encourage harmful gambling behaviour or exploit the susceptibilities of vulnerable people.

“We considered that such messaging, in the context of an ad for an online bingo service, could have the effect of encouraging some people to continue gambling when they would otherwise have stopped,” the authority said.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has not upheld a complaint against bet365 relating to a promoted tweet featuring professional boxer Chris Eubank Jr.

The tweet was seen in January 2023 ahead of a boxing match between Eubank and Liam Smith, with a caption encouraging Twitter users to “click for the latest odds.”

Boxing has no ‘strong appeal’ to children

In its assessment, the ASA determined that the use of Eubank in marketing materials was “unlikely to be of inherent strong appeal to under-18s.”

That was due to a combination of factors, including that boxing is considered an “adult-oriented sport,” while viewer data from the event itself confirmed that the majority of its viewers were adults.

Still, because the ad appeared on social media, where under-18s cannot be entirely excluded from the audience, the ASA said that it needed to comply with rules, stating ads “must not include a person or character whose example was likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who had strong appeal to those aged under 18.”

After consideration, the regulator determined that “there was nothing in the way he was presented in the ad that would have strongly attracted the attention of under-18s or was likely to render him of strong appeal.”

Eubank’s following

To reach its conclusion, the ASA also analysed the demographics of Eubank’s social media followings, and found that the vast majority of his fans were adults.

On Facebook, for example, just 0.1% of Eubank’s followers were registered as under 18. On Twitter and Instagram, 0.3% and 0.4% of followers respectively were registered as under 18.

Eubank’s TikTok account told a slightly different story, with 31.7% of his 21,300 followers on that platform registered as under 18.

Bet365 argued, however, that the operator does not have a profile or presence on TikTok, and that therefore none of Eubank’s followers on that platform could see bet365 content.

The majority of Eubank’s followers are also split among the first three platforms, and across all platforms together, the proportion of his followers under the age of 18 was around 0.6% in total.

Boxing vs. football

The ruling stands in contrast to other recent ASA judgements, particularly those considering the use of professional footballers in gambling ads.

In April, the authority ruled a BetVictor ad on Facebook as “irresponsible” for its use of Spanish footballers Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

The ASA ruled the ad was likely to have a strong appeal to under-18s due to its use of active players in top-flight football.

Meanwhile, previous rulings on the use of retired footballers, including Peter Crouch and Harry Redknapp, saw the authority suggest that non-active footballers held a decidedly less strong appeal to under-18s.

Posting on LinkedIn, lawyer Melanie Ellis of Northridge Law LLP suggested the latest ruling was “very useful” in helping to understand where the ASA draws the line on the use of professional athletes in gambling advertising.

After the ASA ruled in favour of bet365 in this case, Ellis suggested: “An interesting question is whether the ruling would have been different if a current professional footballer was used, who had the same profile and social media following as Eubank. 

“The ASA’s guidance is not completely clear on the impact of a character being of ‘inherent strong appeal’, given that their profile and following must be assessed either way.”

Ellis added that the ASA had in this case undertaken “a risk-based assessment,” whereby “the higher the inherent appeal, the higher the standard of evidence needed to prove the contrary.”

The ASA’s approval of the ad “may be helpful when considering whether to feature athletes from other sports in the future,” she concluded.

Entain-owned betting and gaming brand Ladbrokes is the first UK operator to fall foul of new advertising restrictions introduced this year by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In April, the ASA announced adjustments to existing guidance on gambling advertising, with new restrictions to be introduced around the use of public figures with a view to protecting minors from exposure to gambling ads.

Since 1 October, when the new rules came into force, operators have been forbidden from advertising products using, for example, footballers who are well known among under-18s.

Previous rules stated that ads must not be of “particular appeal” to children, whereas the new rules state that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.”

While the distinction may appear small, under previous guidance adverts would be permitted as long as they were intended for an adult audience. 

The new definition of “strong appeal to children” gives a broader range of limitations than “particular appeal”, by prohibiting any content likely to appeal to children, regardless of how it is viewed by adults.

According to the ASA, Ladbrokes fell foul of the new rules in October, after sending out a promoted tweet containing images of Premier League footballers Philippe Coutinho, Jesse Lingard and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Advertising Standards Authority: “We considered that it would have been acceptable for the ad to appear in a medium where under-18s, for all intents and purposes, could be entirely excluded from the audience.”

The ASA has now ruled that the individuals included in the ad were likely to have a strong appeal to under-18s and therefore breached the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code).

When first challenged, Labrokes responded to the ASA saying that its marketing team had carefully implemented new CAP Code guidance on public figures with a particular appeal to under-18s.

Given the appeal of Premier League footballers to young people, it said, it had “made use of all available targeting and age-gating tools to remove under-18s from the ad’s audience.”

One way of doing so was to target the ad only at over-25s, and Ladbrokes provided data from Twitter showing a total of 50,666 impressions with 0% of its targeted audience under 20 years old.

Despite Ladbrokes’ protests, the ASA confirmed today (21 December) that it has upheld the ruling against the ads.

“We considered that it would have been acceptable for the ad to appear in a medium where under-18s, for all intents and purposes, could be entirely excluded from the audience,” the advertising regulator said.

“That would apply in circumstances where those who saw the ad had been robustly age-verified as being 18 or older, such as through marketing lists that had been validated by payment data or credit checking.”

Whereas using the ad under such circumstances would have been considered acceptable by the authority, it ruled that because Twitter users self-verify their age in order to access mature content, under-18s had not been excluded from Ladbrokes’ audience with sufficient accuracy.

The ad must not appear again in the same form.

Both Rank Group and Entain’s Coral have been slammed by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over adverts promoting irresponsible gambling practices.

Following the standards breaches, Rank Group has terminated its relationship with affiliate and mobile marketing agency WakeApp, which was responsible for an in-app ad flagged by the advertising watchdog for promoting gambling as a way to solve financial concerns and achieve financial security.

The ad for a mobile casino game appeared at the beginning of May and included images of a prize wheel with a wolf’s face and two women at the top of the page.

The accompanying text stated that “everyone wants to solve theirs [sic] financial problems … Click the ‘DOWNLOAD’ button right now and start to earn … In fact, it’s all very easy to do with our application … pay off loans, buy a car and a nice house … and make a lot of money!”

Rank had challenged ASA’s previous ruling that the ad presents a breach of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP code).

The London-listed operator pointed out that the ad had been prepared by an affiliate organisation, WakeApp, which purchased in-app media on its behalf.

The company added that its terms and conditions for affiliates only permitted the use of copy provided by Rank, or copy created by an affiliate which Rank then directly approved, and that WakeApp had not adhered to that process when creating the ad.

Nonetheless, a Rank spokesperson told iGaming NEXT that the company fully accepts “that the in-app advert in question is in clear breach of the CAP code.”

“We also made clear to the ASA that Rank were in no way involved in the creation, approval or deployment of this advert in any way whatsoever, nor would we ever have knowingly sanctioned its use.

“When we became aware of this incident, we immediately suspended all in-app media purchasing and terminated our relationship with the affiliate responsible for this in-app advert,” Rank said.

ASA ruled that the ad must not re-appear in its current form and warned Rank to ensure that their future ads, including those prepared by affiliates, do not suggest that gambling is a way to achieve financial security.

Rank Group: “When we became aware of this incident, we immediately suspended all in-app media purchasing and terminated our relationship with the affiliate responsible for this in-app advert.”

In a separate ruling, the ASA has also banned a TV commercial for Coral aired in March 2022, which breached the ad code by portraying, condoning or encouraging gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.

The ad featured footage of a tightly contested horse race and included cropped close-up shots of spectators engrossed by the events on track, cheering and waiting in anticipation, in addition to a voice-over expressing excitement.

On this topic, Coral responded to ASA that its intention with the ad was to capture the trackside excitement and crowd atmosphere at popular horse racing events.

The operator said it wanted the ad to appeal to an adult audience of horse racing fans and had designed the visuals and dramatic soundtrack to evoke a cinematic feel.

Moreover, it had deliberately refrained from including any depiction of betting, as well as any mention of the availability of its products, services, or promotional offers.

Coral added that it believed the visibility of its branding was the only element of the ad which could be identified as a reference to betting. Therefore, it felt that the ad was not irresponsible, and did not think it would disproportionately affect vulnerable groups.

The operator further stated that the emotions displayed by the ad’s characters did not reflect behavioural indicators of problem gambling.

The ASA, however, decided otherwise and upheld a previous ruling stating that the ad was in breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code).

The Authority mentioned that Coral banners could be seen around the track and in the crowd, each horse had “CORAL” written on its saddle cloth, and the ad ended by referencing Coral in the voice-over and in large on-screen text.

“We considered viewers would therefore interpret the ad in the context that it promoted gambling on horse racing with Coral,” the ASA said.

Furthermore, the ASA found that the ad’s voice-over addressed the viewer in the second person and also referred to “your” horse winning a tightly contested race with no reference to losses.

“We considered there was a significant risk that element of the ad could disproportionately affect, or pressure, those struggling with gambling addiction,” the ad regulator concluded.

The UK’s Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) has toughened rules for gambling advertising which will see operators significantly limited in their ability to use public figures in marketing material.

From 1 October 2022, operators will no longer be able to advertise products using, for example, footballers with a considerable following among under-18s on social media, or any sportspeople well-known to under-18s, like the tweet below for example:

🙌 @ManCity's Premier League season gets underway today!

Check out our dedicated market for #MCFC specials — get Manchester City at 300/1 to win the quadruple:

— Marathonbet (@marathonbet) August 12, 2018

Other restrictions coming into effect include a ban on references to video game content and gameplay popular with under-18s, or the use of stars from reality TV shows popular with minors such as Love Island.

The changes will take place as a result of an adjustment to CAP rules relating to gambling advertisements and their appeal to minors. 

Previous rules stated the ads must not be of “particular appeal” to children, whereas the new rules state that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.”

“Strong appeal” gives a broader range of limitations than “particular appeal”, by prohibiting any content likely to appeal to children, regardless of how it is viewed by adults. 

CAP director Shariar Coupal: “The days of gambling ads featuring sports stars, video game imagery and other content of strong appeal to under-18s are numbered.”

For example, while the use of a top-flight footballer to advertise gambling may not be specifically aimed at children, if the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) determines the player has strong appeal to children, the ad would not be permitted.

However, current footballers are prevented from directly starring in UK gambling adverts on integrity grounds. This no longer applies once they have retired, while the image rights of professional footballers can still be used if their club has a commercial deal in place with a bookmaker.

The changes follow on from a consultation launched by CAP in October 2020, in response to GambleAware’s Final Synthesis Report on the impact of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable adults.

The findings of the report indicated that regulatory change would help continue to protect under-18s from gambling-related advertising harms.

“The days of gambling ads featuring sports stars, video game imagery and other content of strong appeal to under-18s are numbered,” said Shariar Coupal, director of CAP.

“By ending these practices, our new rules invite a new era for gambling ads, more particular to the adult audience they can target and more befitting of the age-restricted product they’re promoting.”