Advertising in focus at gaming seminar

Advertising in focus at gaming seminar

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 Posted by Luke Massey
Consistency needed from the ASA argues lawyer

Recent decisions by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) came under scrutiny at the C5 Annual Gaming Conference in London this week with one lawyer questioning the consistency of recent regulatory decisions in regard to the appeal to under-18s.

Jason Chess, partner at Wiggin, cited two recent cases involving Fremantle Media and Ladbrokes where each operator relied upon the defence that its adverts – one involving the pop group Miss Dynamix and another with Marvel comic hero Iron Man – were restricted over-18 only mailing lists.

In the first instance the ASA accepted to premise that the adverts weren’t aimed at children while in the second the advertiser was found guilty of advertising that had appeal to under-18s. “There are contradictions in the ASA rulings,” suggested Chess.

He pointed also to one of the most controversial adverts in the recent past, the Paddy Power blind football TV ad which showed blind footballers getting confused between the ball with a bell and a cat that has strayed on the pitch. The vast majority of the over 1,200 complaints about that ad were about the potential to view the ad as being harmful to animals.

Speaking on behalf of the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP), which works close with the ASA, Andrew Taylor insisted that gambling advertisers were being listened to by the regulator and suggested dialogue with the regulator was always possible.

“In the vast majority of cases, a breach will be plain. In advertising, the process can’t be open-ended. Effectively, the case officer can do things on an informal basis.”

Taylor suggested the biggest area of worry for the ASA and his own body was the ongoing issue with bonuses and free bets that was currently being investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

“I think that is one area where there is definitely a problem,” said Taylor.

The CMA is thought to be investigating cases involved over 10 operators, though it recently widened its scope to include sports-betting. Taylor confirmed that the issue was being viewed by CAP the ASA and the UK Gambling Commission as a “persistent irritant.” “We are seeing the same thing again and again,” he added. “As the industry become ever more competitive, this situation has developed. Simply put there is an issue here.”

Taylor added that action needed to be taken by the various regulatory authorities, whether that was the Gambling Commission or the ASA and that it would happen sooner rather than later. “Pressure is being ratcheted up by various regulators.”

Totally Gaming says: With TV advertising now subject to further scrutiny from the UK government’s Triennial Review, arguments about the attitude of the ASA and CAP towards gambling advertising has an even clearer focus. The lesson from the CMA enquiry into bonus terms and conditions is that the industry needs to be more mindful in its marketing efforts.

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