UK’s Advertising Standards Authority Slams Unnamed Gambling Operators Advertising on “Child-Friendly” Sites

Author Thomas Wolf
August 28, 2020 3 min read

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) of the UK government has found four gambling operators that posted a total of 70 adverts on websites or YouTube channels that have lots of children and teens as part of their audiences.

The news came as part of an upgrade in the ASA’s detection facilities for rule-breaking advertisements. This latest sweep used state-of-the-art “website CCTV style systems” to continuously monitor websites and videos for ads that violate UK codes of conduct.

Under ASA rules, advertising for anything deemed unsuitable, unhealthy, or illegal for minors in the UK cannot be aired on a medium that has more than 25% of its audience as under 18s.

Gambling operators were not alone in being singled out, although only high fat, salt, or sugar food sellers (HFSS) posted more age-inappropriate ads.

Between them, junk food sellers and gambling operators accounted for 148 out of 159 illegal ads found in the sweep.

There were only two other companies involved in the final 11 ads caught by the ASA watchdog—one alcohol brand and a solitary advert from an e-cigarette company.

Luckily for the four gambling companies, the ASA has declined to officially name and shame them for their first offense.

Only repeat offenders will face fines and having their names revealed in the media, claims the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper. Instead, the companies were individually warned. Each was encouraged to cooperate by removing the offending adverts and taking steps to avoid promotions like it in the future.

“Culture of Zero Tolerance”

“The ASA is using technology to proactively monitor online ads to help build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children,” said a statement from the watchdog’s CEO Guy Parker.

“We expect advertisers and the parties they contract with to use the sophisticated tools available to them to target their ads responsibly,” he finished.

This does reflect badly on the gambling industry, as the frothing Daily Meal headlines illustrate. However, UK gambling firms have already been taking strong action on their advertising throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents many of the country’s and Europe’s biggest gambling organizations, suspended all TV and Radio advertising for several months back in April.

Companies it represents include large-scale advertisers like Flutter (owners of Paddy Power and Betfair) and GVC Holdings.

The ASA’s own research from May this year revealed UK children are, on average, seeing only two gambling adverts per week. That’s down 50% from the same statistics in 2008 when the ASA started monitoring the figures.

It seems that many UK gambling operators are determined to preemptively avoid bad press. This is especially true with the looming prospect of wide-ranging gambling reform in the country.

The UK’s gambling legislation, The Gambling Act 2005, was last updated (as the name suggests) fifteen years ago in 2005. 

Campaigners, politicians, and other public figures have long been calling for an update on this set of laws now that online casinos are a standard feature of the gambling environment.

Keep reading our pages for the latest news on gambling legislation in the UK and the rest of the world’s biggest online casino-related stories.

Author Thomas Wolf


Thomas Wolf

384 articles

Thomas Wolf is our editor in chief. With an extensive background in online gambling (both working for casino operators and game studios) as well as an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, he's a proper authority on online casinos. When not running the day to day operations or reviewing new operators Thomas is a blackjack aficionado with some seriously big wins recorded at land-based casinos in both Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau.

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Authority Slams Unnamed Gambling Operators Advertising on “Child-Friendly” Sites