ASA publishes final ruling on gambling ads before the new rules to better protect under 18s come into force on 1 October 2022
With tough new gambling advertising rules designed to better protect under-18s taking effect from 1 October 2022, the Advertising Standards Authority (‘ASA’) published (on 21 September 2022) its final ruling pursuant to existing CAP Code rules requiring that gambling ads must not “be likely to be of ‘particular appeal’ to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”.
The new rules will require that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of ‘strong appeal’ to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.” You can read more about this in our 5 April 2022 website posting here.
As the ASA said when announcing the new rules in April this year: “This is a step-change from the existing rules that gambling ads must not be of ‘particular appeal’ to children. A ‘strong’ appeal test prohibits content (imagery, themes and characters) that has a strong level of appeal to under-18s regardless of how it is viewed by adults”.
The ASA’s 21 September ruling upheld a complaint against an advertisement for gaming website MrQ.com in circumstances where a clear breach of the existing rules had occurred. The full ruling (that you can download below) is set out below:
ASA Ruling on Lindar Media Ltd t/a MRQ.com
A paid-for Reddit ad for gaming website, MrQ.com, seen on 29 June, featured an image showing three cartoon Spiderman figures pointing at one another with a text box stating “MrQ” over their heads.
The complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to have particular appeal to children and therefore breached the Code.
Lindar Media Ltd t/a MrQ.com said that the ad had been placed by an agency which had followed audience targeting to ensure that it targeted people who were already interested in gambling and, because of that, they believed it was unlikely to be seen by children or young people. They said that, although they had approved the copy, they had not seen the images before the ad was placed. Their marketing terms and conditions stated that agents should not use images of famous individuals or brands and that they had terminated the relationship with the agency because the Spiderman imagery was used without their approval. They acknowledged that the images in the ad might appeal to children.
Reddit said they had not received any direct complaints about the ad. They said that, in response to the complaint, they had amended their policy to exclude the use of cartoon characters in paid-for gambling advertising.
The CAP Code stated that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Gambling ads must not, therefore, have content that would appeal more strongly to under-18s than it would to over-18s, regardless of whether they were appropriately targeted.
The ASA understood the ad was making reference to a popular meme. Nevertheless, we considered that a cartoon depiction of Spiderman, a popular comic book character, was likely to appeal more strongly to under-18s than it would to over-18s. We therefore considered that the ad, which featured three cartoon depictions of Spiderman, was likely to have particular appeal to children and concluded that it breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 16.1 and 16.3.12 (Gambling).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Lindar Media Ltd to ensure their gambling ads did not have particular appeal to those aged under 18.
CAP Code (Edition 12)