‘Irresponsible’ gambling ads from two operators banned by watchdog

Ads from Coral and Rank Digital Gaming fell foul of the Advertising Standards Authority.

02 August 2022

An “irresponsible” ad for bookmakers Coral featuring excited spectators at a horse race accompanied by a dramatic soundtrack has been banned over the risk it could pressure those struggling with gambling addiction.

The TV ad, seen in March, showed stylised footage of a tightly contested horse race on a misty day, including close-up shots of spectators engrossed by the events on the track and dramatic music.

A voiceover stated: “Exciting, isn’t it? When your horse wins by a nose. But if that’s exciting, how about three furlongs ago? Look, look, any horse could win. How about now when your horse is under starter’s orders? How long have you waited for those gates to crash open? But that’s nothing. What about earlier still? Your horse is the only horse that matters. Coral. Get closer to the action.”

Two viewers complained that the ad encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.

LC International, trading as Coral, said it wanted the ad to replicate the anticipation before races that was an inherent feature of horse racing, and believed it did not portray or encourage gambling behaviour of any form.

It further stated that the emotions displayed by the ad’s characters did not reflect behavioural indicators of problem gambling.

Upholding the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged that the ad did not depict, or explicitly refer to, betting, but the use of Coral banners around the track and in the crowd would lead viewers to interpret it as promoting gambling on horse racing with Coral.

The ASA said: “The ad’s voiceover addressed the viewer in the second person and also referred to ‘your horse winning a tightly contested race’ with no reference to losses.

“We considered there was a significant risk that element of the ad could disproportionately affect, or pressure, those struggling with gambling addiction.”

It added: “Because we considered there was a significant risk of the ad disproportionately affecting a vulnerable group, we concluded that it was socially irresponsible.

“It portrayed, condoned, or encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.”

In a separate ruling, the ASA ruled that an in-app ad for a mobile casino game, Wolf Gold, irresponsibly suggested that gambling was a way to solve financial concerns and achieve security.

The Rank ad banned by the ASA (ASA/PA)

The ad, seen in the Lucky Night app in May, stated: “Everyone wants to solve theirs (sic) financial problems … Click the ‘Download’ button right now and start to earn … In fact, it’s all very easy to do with our application … pay off loans, buy a car and a nice house … and make a lot of money!”

Text beneath this stated “WELCOME BONUS £400”.

Rank Digital Gaming said it had not been involved in the production or publication of the ad, and had not been aware of it until it had been brought to its attention by the complaint.

Rank told the ASA that it had raised the matter with makers WakeApp, and made it clear that the nature of the content was unacceptable and in contravention of its own internal policies regarding advertising.

WakeApp told the ASA that the ad did not align with its own internal policies and accepted that it contravened regulations but did not offer a substantive explanation of the process behind its creation or publication.

The ASA said: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Rank Digital Gaming to ensure that their future ads, including those prepared by affiliates, did not suggest that gambling was a way to achieve financial security.”

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