Betfred avoids ASA punishment over TV ad

17 April 2019

Bookmaker Betfred will not face any action over a television ad that attracted a consumer complaint after the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled that it did not breach its guidelines.

The advert in question appeared on UK television on January 20, 2019, showing a woman in the bath, a man preparing a meal and a woman exercising, all while playing online bingo via mobile devices.

A voice-over said: “Love to chill in the bath? Make it a thrill and a laugh with Betfred bingo. Forget those two little ducks, soak up the action and win big bucks. You can even join in whilst making the tea with games from as little as just 1p. Play with Betfred bingo and enjoy top promotions such as daily free bingo games, bonus back and more. Put the fun back into house. Kick back and bingo with Betfred”.

A single complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible as it showed characters gambling while carrying out everyday activities, thus normalising gambling.

In its response, Betfred said the ad did not suggest that people should play bingo excessively or that it should take priority over any other social interaction. The bookmaker also said the ad did not promote high-stakes gambling or present any unrealistic positive or negative emotions, which insinuated harm.

Betfred also said that there was no suggestion the characters spent an excessive amount of time or money gambling, with the individuals instead shown playing bingo as part of their leisure time alongside other activities.

The bookmaker added the characters were not shown as being isolated from family, friends, work or education, adding that the ad promoted the community aspect of bingo by showing chat names for each character and social interaction within the chatroom itself.

Clearcast, a non-governmental organisation that pre-approves ads for British television, supported Betfred in its claims, saying that it did not believe gambling in the ad was shown as indispensable to the characters.

Considering how the characters were shown gambling while taking part in everyday activities, Clearcast said no one was shown in a situation where they were ignoring family, friends or professional or educational commitments.

Clearcast also noted that the three people seen in the ad were shown gambling once and on separate occasions, which ensured the same person was not seen gambling multiple times in different scenarios.

In its ruling, the ASA said that the ad clearly showed playing bingo in conjunction with doing those tasks, rather than instead of them, and therefore gambling was therefore not shown as taking priority over those tasks or as indispensable to the characters.

The ASA did concede that a scene where a player threw his pizza in the air after he won showed he was briefly distracted from his task, but did not consider that this scene portrayed gambling as taking priority in life.

As a result, the ASA concluded the ad “did not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, or portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life”.

Betfred will not face any further action or punishment over the advert.