CAP warns operators over esports betting marketing

23 April 2020

The UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), part of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has issued a warned gambling operators to be especially careful when advertising esports betting, due to the key titles potentially being of particular appeal to minors.

The ASA said the CAP has undertaken “comprehensive” work around esports betting marketing in order to ensure there are no gaps in gambling regulation.

This has resulted in it warning all British Gambling Commission licensees that ads for esports betting must comply with the same rules governing all other forms of gambling advertising.

The guidance observed that research published by GambleAware last month found that a large number of advertisements flagged as possibly targeting young people concerned esports, and so guidance on marketing in this vertical was necessary.

CAP reminded operators that if a promotion is being advertised by a third-party social media account, such as through affiliate or influencer marketing, then the fact it is an ad needs to be clear.

In addition, it said that gambling advertising must not be targeted at under-18s, either through medium or content and that advertisements targeted at adults should not pose a risk to children.

Gambling marketing communications also may not be of “particular appeal” to under-18s, which the CAP said includes the use of cartoons, toys or influencers associated with youth culture.

“The ASA has ruled that if an ad that holds particular appeal is very carefully targeted - such as within an email sent to only registered users whose age had been validated - then it would not break the rules,” the CAP said. “However, such validation may be difficult to obtain on social media alone.

The CAP also reminded operators that individuals aged under 25 may not play a prominent role in gambling ads, besides on an operator’s website, and that this rule applies to esports players, many of whom are under 25.

In addition, it said terms and conditions of their accounts and bonus offers must be made clear, even in limited space provided on social media channels.

“Where there is limited time and space, some terms and conditions can be ‘one click away’,” the CAP said. “But remember, many social media platforms allow for users to use various techniques to get information across in a post.

“For example, Twitter allows users to post an image along with the character limit for a tweet. We would expect advertisers to take advantage of all available technical options on a platform to include significant terms and conditions.”

CAP will also update the Commission on its work in response to the GambleAware research, which found that 96% of 11-24-year-old participants had been exposed to gambling marketing messages in the last month, while those that were shown parts of gambling logos were able correctly identify an average of eight out of 10.

The report also said this early exposure was a key factor as to whether a young person was likely to gamble in the future. If they had a close friend or carer that gambles, they were six times more likely to be a current gambler than those without such a connection.

The CAP’s response to this report will be released in the Autumn.