Two major ASA rulings against online gambling operators

Eaton Gate Gaming Ltd t/a Kwiff

A television advertisement for Kwiff was seen on the 9 June 2018. The ad showed several Kwiff customers discussing their experiences using language such as “I’ve been Kwiffed many times”, “It’s quite a buzz actually”, and “It’s like winning twice”.

The complainant challenged whether the ad portrayed, condoned or encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm. The operator countered this by stating that the ad was intended to show how real customers felt and experienced the app, and therefore did not breach the BCAP Code. They said that the customers were questioned, and their genuine feeling was filmed and therefore denied that it implied customers were ‘glued to the app’ and reference to ‘buzzing’ in no way glorified betting. This was backed up by Clearcast.

The ASA ruled that this was a breach of BCAP Code 1.2 and 17.3.1, which states that ads must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and society and must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.

They further stated that ‘the sole purpose of the app was to facilitate gambling, and therefore considered that statements regarding the excitement of using the app were also statements about the excitement of gambling.’ They considered that the overall impression of the ad condoned and encouraged betting in ways that could be harmful in financial, social and emotional ways because it associated the activities with problem gambling and therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.

Eaton Gate Gaming were told that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

 

WHG (International) Ltd

An ad for William Hill Vegas, seen on 17th February 2018, appeared within an app called New Mariokart 8 Trick. The complainant challenged whether the ad was appropriately targeting, as it was seen whilst using an app which they believed was aimed at children.

WHG (International) Ltd said they would never knowingly target their ads at children and that they only ever intended to advertise to over 18s. Further they stated that they had little control over where the ads were placed as this was conducted through Google’s online advertising platform.

They said that the retargeting technique on online platforms is widely used and based on historical user activity; they also hoped that where any child related content had been accessed that no William Hill content would be made available to that device because devices were often shared between adults and children. The operator stated that they had opted to utilise this technique through the Universal App Campaign.

Google said that gambling operators were not able to utilise the Universal App Campaign to retarget users based on digital footprints and retargeting campaigns based on previous browsing habits.

The ASA Ruled that there had been a breach of CAP Rule 16.3.13 whereby ads must not be directed at those aged below 18 years (or 16 years in some cases) through the selection of media, or context in which they appear.

They stated that marketers should be able to demonstrate that they had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that gambling ads were directed at an audience aged 18 and over to minimise under 18s exposure to them. They felt that WHG (International) Ltd had not done enough, as it had not used all the available tools available through the Google Ads platform.

They stated that the ad must not be used again without specific targeting, to minimise the number of under 18s who would be exposed to the ad.

 

Jonathan Beagle

Jonathan Beagle

Trainee – Licensing

+44 (0) 20 7307 3972

jonathan.b@joelsonlaw.com

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This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.