Gambling ads banned for appealing to children and suggesting self-esteem boost


A watchdog has banned three separate gambling ads for featuring young footballers, appealing to children and for suggesting betting could improve financial security and self-esteem.

A tweet from Tottenham Hotspur’s Twitter page, seen on March 5, featured a picture of the team’s starting line-up against Borussia Dortmund, including players Harry Winks and Davinson Sanchez, alongside the logo of betting firm William Hill.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it featured Winks and Sanchez, who were both aged under 25.

The Tottenham Hotspur/William Hill ad. (ASA/PA)
The Tottenham Hotspur/William Hill ad. (ASA/PA)

Under guidelines that came into force on April 1, online ads for gambling products must not target individuals likely to be under 18. The guidelines include a standard prohibiting of the use of sportspeople, celebrities or other characters who are, or appear to be, under 25.

Spurs and William Hill acknowledged that Winks and Sanchez were under 25 but said they were included because they were selected in the starting line-up.

The ASA said it understood the intention of the tweet was to inform the audience of the starting line-up but it was equally offering an opportunity to place a bet on the match.

It concluded that the ad was irresponsible and ruled that it must not appear again in the form complained of.

The ASA also banned an ad for Monopoly Casino seen on February 7 for having particular appeal to children.

Monopoly Casino ad. (ASA/PA)
Monopoly Casino ad. (ASA/PA)

One person complained that the banner ad, seen on the Mirror Online website and featuring an image of the character Mr Monopoly, was irresponsible.

Entertaining Play, trading as Monopoly Casino, said the Mr Monopoly character was shown in traditional, adult attire, did not have exaggerated features and did not mimic any style of cartoon.

The Mirror Online said the ad included an 18-plus label and believed it did not have particular appeal to children.

The ASA said the ad’s branding referenced a regular edition of the board game Monopoly, and included two red and white Monopoly logos.

It said: “We considered that Monopoly was a family game generally played by or with children, and that under-18s would therefore recognise and find the ad’s references to it appealing.

“We therefore concluded that the ad was of particular appeal to under-18s and breached the code.”

A third ruling, for Paddy Power Rewards and featuring Rhodri Giggs, brother of former footballer and now manager Ryan Giggs, has been banned for suggesting gambling could help achieve financial security and boost self-esteem.

Five viewers complained that scenes of Rhodri Giggs asking for Champagne and driving a sports car glamorised gambling and suggested it was a way of achieving a good standard of living.

The ASA noted that the ad’s closing sequence featured Rhodri Giggs saying: “Loyalty gets you nowhere, live for rewards instead,” a reference to his brother Ryan’s eight-year affair with his ex-wife.

The ASA said: “We considered that created the impression that Rhodri was no longer defined by the alleged affair and that he had moved past his ‘loyalty’ and was now reaping the rewards, both financially and in terms of his own self-image.

“The ad implied viewers should follow his example, and that their route to doing so was joining Paddy Power’s Rewards Club. For that reason, we considered the ad implied gambling was a way to achieve financial security and improved self-image, and we concluded the ad was irresponsible.”