ASA raps online operators over 'fairytale' adverts

30 May 2018

The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has issued warnings to two online gaming sites after ruling that a number of adverts they published were appealing to children.

Campaign group Fairer Gambling contacted the ASA in January over its concerns with the adverts, saying that their content would be of interest to youngsters.

The complaints related to M88.com, owned and run by Progress Play, as well as Fun88.co.uk, which is operated by TGP Europe.

Fairer Gambling cited M88.com adverts for ‘Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood’, ‘Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel’ and ‘Fairies Forest’ as its main worries.

The group also highlighted a number of adverts on Fun88.co.uk as concerns, with each of these featuring content that it said may appeal to youngsters.

Fairer Gambling said the animations in each ad would likely attract children.

M88.com removed the games for consumers that were not members of the site, meaning they are no longer able to access them in demo mode.

Although M88.com also modified the graphics to remove fairytale characters, it upheld an argument that it did not believe the advert content would appeal to children.

However, the ASA disagreed, saying that the content of the ads and the fact they were based on fairytale stories meant they would be of interest to youngsters.

In its ruling, the ASA said: “Because the ad promoted a game that was based on a fairy theme, which we considered was highly popular amongst young children, we concluded that ad was likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form; we told m88.com to ensure that their gambling ads did not have particular appeal to under-18s.”

Fun88.co.uk removed the adverts from its website prior to when the complaint was issued, and also placed demo games behind registration to block children from accessing the titles.

However, the operator also said that assessing whether the ads appeal to under-18s was “highly subjective”.

Although the ASA commended Fun88.co.uk for removing the ads and placing the games behind registration, the regulator said some of the adverts in question were more likely to appeal to under-18s than adults.

As a result, the ASA ruled the ad must not appear in their current form again.

Related article: ASA bans ‘misleading’ Kwiff advert