ASA Upholds Gambling Ad Complaint

The UK Advertising Authority has struck again! The ASA says that an ad by Mirror casino has violated the ban on marketing gambling to children. The Daily Mirror has been criticized for using transformers to promote its gambling website. The ad ran in the Daily Mirror promoting a £5 free play offer. The ad used images of cartoon characters including Optimus Prime from the Transformers franchise which is popular with children.

The ASA received a complaint that the ad was irresponsible because the ad might appeal to children. Trinity Mirror the parent company of the Daily Mirror said that the ad was used because one of the games on their casino was transformer branded. The publisher contends that the ad did not target those under 18 and appeared on the money section of the newspaper, a section rarely read by children. Trinity Mirror said that while it did not believe the ad targeted children the company will not use the ad again.

The ASA said the ad violated the broadcasting code which says that ads for gambling should not be designed to appeal to children. In a statement the ASA said “We considered that the depiction of the popular comic book character was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people, regardless of the context in which it appeared and therefore concluded that the ad breached the [advertising] code.”

Trinity Mirror said that their website made it clear that the site was for those over 18 and that players had to verify their age before playing any casino games. In August an ad for the first Facebook real money gaming app, Bingo Friendzy, attracted the attention of the ASA. The Facebook app was marketed using cartoon characters that have been compared to those on Moshi Monsters which is a popular children’s social network. The ads prompted complaints from ‘Christian’ groups that asked the ASA to step in. Toby Scott, director of communications for the Methodist Church told reporters “It is especially concerning that Bingo Friendzy’s visual marketing is the kind that you see in children’s games, with bright colours and friendly characters. This appears to be a blatant breach of the ASA’s Gambling Advertising rules, which clearly state that marketing ‘should not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture’.”

Facebook requires players to prove they are over 18 and has verification software in place. The ASA maintains strict advertising standards and has investigated ads on the basis of a single complaint. Obviously gaming operators must change their marketing tactics to avoid running afoul of the ASA again.