Poppleston Allen: operators take note, gambling a high ASA priority 

Take note

Operators must be prompt in ensuring that all advertisements are in line with UK regulations, with the gambling industry clearly identified as a “high-priority area” for the Advertising Standards Authority.

These are the words of Felix Faulkner, Solicitor at Poppleston Allen, which has a specialist betting and gaming division, following a spate of action being taken against a number of operators.

Sky Bet became the latest to fall foul of the ASA, with a promoted Tweet that heavily featured Gary Neville and The Overlap football podcast having been deemed likely to have a strong appeal to under-18s.

“The ruling that Gary Neville’s use in a Sky Bet tweet was irresponsible and not in line with the relevant CAP code is perhaps a little surprising as the ASA has taken a more lenient stance on the use of other long-retired footballers in gambling advertising,” Faulkner said.

“However, it appears to have been his social media presence that tipped the scales in this investigation. The way the investigation came to the ASA’s attention is also worth noting.”

Following previous action against the likes of Ladbrokes, bet365 and WIlliam Hill, which was of a similar nature to the latest ruling, the ASA raised the complaint in question following intelligence gathered by its Active Ad Monitoring system. This utilises AI to search for online ads that might break the rules.

“This suggests there will be no letup in the ASA’s tough approach to ensuring gambling operators are compliant with the rules that came into place restricting the use of celebrities in gambling advertising late last year,” Faulkner continued.

“Indeed, it was the ASA itself that brought the first complaint related to the CAP Code when it flagged a promoted tweet used by Ladbrokes in the very first month the rules were in force. 

“There have since been a number of related rulings, with a couple investigated after the regulator received complaints but with most investigations initiated by the ASA itself.”

Following an array of aforementioned upheld self reported complaints, and question marks remaining on how many, if any at all, are to follow, Poppleston Allen warns that industry must heighten compliance to new levels. 

“It now appears that it is being even more proactive in making sure gambling operators are compliant by using its selectively deployed AI-based system to tackle gambling advertising,” he concluded. 

“Operators would be wise to take note of the fact that gambling would appear to be a high-priority area for the ASA and they should ensure that all of their ads are in line with the regulations.”