New technology identifies gambling ads displayed to under 18s

Hot on the heels of new gambling advertising standards to protect under 18s that came into force on 1 April 2019, the Advertising Standards Authority has announced that it has used new monitoring technology in the form of child ‘avatars’ – online profiles which simulate children’s browsing activity – to identify gambling ads that children see online.

Arising from this, five gambling operators:

  • NetEnt Product Ltd (Vikings Video Slot),
  • Evoke Gaming Ltd (RedBet),
  • Multilotto UK Ltd,
  • Platinum Gaming Ltd (Unibet) and
  • SkillOnNet Ltd (PlayOJO).

have been identified as being in contravention of the ASA’s advertising rules prohibiting gambling ads being targeted at under 18 year olds.

The ASA states that the operators have accepted that their ads broke the rules, adding:

In most instances, we were informed that the problems arose due to errors by third-party companies who served the campaigns on behalf of the operators. We have instructed the companies to take immediate action to review their online ads, ensure they are not served to web users aged below 18 years of age through the selection of media or context in which they appear and to put in place measures to ensure this does not happen again.

Operators should take note that the ASA is now exploring whether this monitoring and enforcement approach can be extended to logged-in environments like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Commenting on this news, ASA Chief Executive, Guy Parker, has said:

Online ads are subject to the same strict rules that apply elsewhere and this important new monitoring capability delivers on our commitment to having more impact online. It’s already allowed us to spot a problem with a small number of gambling operators and take quick and effective action to ensure children are protected from irresponsibly-targeted gambling ads. We’re already looking at expanding this work, as well as exploring how other new technologies can help us protect the public.

The ASA’s announcement can be downloaded below and a YouTube video, explaining the ASA’s actions, can be accessed here.