UK Regulator Penalises In-Game Gambling Ads

Elouise Spencer - 28 September 2018

The United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been coming down on casinos and sportsbooks who market their products to underage audiences. Increasingly stringent boundaries on such marketing have been introduced over the past year, and the Authority has penalised brands who are found to have crossed them.

The latest example of this was seen on 19th September 2018, when the ASA upheld complaints against advertisements for 2 online casinos; Greentube Alderney's Bell Fruit Casino, and William Hill's William Hill Vegas. In both cases the complaints were that the adverts appeared within game apps, which inappropriately targeted under-18s and was in breach of the Committee of Advertising Practice code.

Some Measures Were Taken

The Bell Fruit Casino advert was seen in the Dude Perfect 2 app. The app's developer had chosen to disable real-money gambling (RMG) content on its ad networks, and Greentube said Google had confirmed their company had been correctly classified as RMG.

William Hill Vegas was advertised on the Mario Kart app in cases where individuals holding desktop accounts logged in on mobile devices, and where the device used for the game had been previously used for gambling or other adult-themed content.

In addition to Bell Fruit Casino's RMG classification, both William Hill and Greentube Alderney used Google's Universal App Campaign. This marketed their products across Google Display Network, Search, the Google Play Store and YouTube. Google limits serving gambling advertisements to individuals who are over 18 only, so the brands were confident their ads would not be seen by minors.

The operators also maintained that the game apps which showed the ads were not primarily targeted at the under-18 market, bolstering these claims with statistics on the dominant age groups of Dude Perfect 2 and Mario Kart.

The ASA Was Unconvinced

The ASA was, however, unmoved by arguments in defence of William Hill and Greentube Alderney. The regulating body said that while some steps had been taken to control Google's dissemination of the ads, not all the available tools had been used.

Both brands were ordered not to run their ads again unless more specific measures were taken to reduce the likelihood of  their exposure to under-18s.

Kwiff Also Held Accountable

The ASA has also upheld complaints lodged against Eaton Gate Gaming Ltd, which runs mobile betting brand Kwiff. An advert featuring real customers discussing the brand was deemed to be condoning betting in a socially irresponsible manner, also on 19th September. In addition, the brand was penalised in May for a promotion featuring odds that were not actually offered. The ASA certainly continues to take its public protection duties seriously.


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