ASA bans three gambling ads for breaching regulations

8 May 2019

The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned adverts from Paddy Power, William Hill and Monopoly Casino after ruling that each ad breached its guidelines.

Five people filed complaints over a Paddy Power ad featuring Rhodri Giggs, the brother of former Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs, as an ambassador for its Rewards Club.

Giggs was first shown in everyday situations such as going to the gym and a pub, before then ordering champagne at a bar and driving away in a sports car, with Giggs patting the bodywork and saying “Thanks Paddy”.

Complainants challenged whether the advert was irresponsible by glamorising gambling and suggesting it was a way of achieving a good standard of living.

Paddy Power responded by saying that only the car could be considered as being glamorous and the advert intended to show that Giggs received the car after he signed up as an ambassador for the Rewards Club. The bookmaker said this was reinforced with a bumper sticker on the car that said ‘Ambassador Car’.

Clearcast, a non-governmental organisation that pre-approves adverts for British television, supported Paddy Power, saying there was no suggestion in the ad that people should gamble either a huge amount or in any way irresponsibly.

However, while the ASA agreed that the success Giggs was enjoying in the advert was not a direct result of gambling, the ad implied that viewers could follow his example of joining the Paddy Power Rewards Club and benefit financially.

The ASA ruled that the advert implied gambling was a way to achieve financial security and improved self-image, and we concluded the ad was irresponsible, ordering Paddy Power not to show the ad again in its current form.

Meanwhile, the ASA has also ruled against William Hill for an ad that appeared on Twitter in partnership with football club Tottenham Hotspur. An image of the Spurs’ starting line-up for the Champions League game with Borussia Dortmund was accompanied the William Hill and a link to the bookmaker’s site.

The ASA challenged whether the ad was irresponsible as it featured Harry Winks and Davinson Sanchez, players who were under 25 years of age at the time.

The CAP Code states that no one under 25 can be featured playing a significant role in marketing communications, with the exception being individuals who appear in a place where a bet could be placed directly through a transactional facility.

The ASA said while the significance of Winks and Sanchez was no greater than other players, all 11 players were the focus of the tweet, and therefore they all played an equally significant role in the marketing communication.

The ad did also not appear in a place where a bet could be placed through a transactional facility, nor had the two players been used to illustrate specific betting selections where they were the subject of the bet offered.

Therefore, the ASA ruled the ad was irresponsible and should not appear again in its current form. The watchdog also ordered Spurs and William Hill not to run similar ads in the future.

Elsewhere, Gamesys subsidiary Entertaining Play has been rapped over an advert for its Monopoly Casino brand after the ASA ruled it may have appealed to children.

The ad in question appeared on the Mirror Online website, featuring an image of the character ‘Mr Monopoly’ and text which stated “Monopoly Casino”, “SUPER MONOPOLY MONEY” and “PLAY NOW”.

The CAP Code states gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, and while Monopoly Casino said Mr Monopoly is not targeted at children, the ASA said Monopoly is a family game and children would recognise the character.

In addition, the ASA said the advert featured a prominent image of Mr Monopoly with exaggerated features reminiscent of a children’s cartoon, which meant the image would also be appealing to under-18s.

As a result, the ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form.