Advertising watchdog to review World Cup gambling ads

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s advertising watchdog, is investigating numerous complaints it received about gambling firms advertising during World Cup matches.

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The ASA is considering whether to launch a formal investigation against the adverts. © Wikipedia.

The complaints were issued against bet365, William Hill and Coral and could break recent new rules around how gambling can be advertised. The ASA received 115 complaints throughout the duration of the World Cup, which is four times the amount it received prior to the event starting.

The complaints were mostly due to the amount of adverts that were featured. But many also related to when adverts were being screened into homes across the UK.

With many games taking place throughout the day and before the watershed, gambling adverts were viewed by large numbers of children and teenagers under the legal age to gamble. Reports by one UK newspaper found that viewers were exposed to 90 minutes of gambling adverts from the start of the tournament up to England’s semi-final match against Croatia.

This issue is exacerbated by ads running at half-time in football matches that offer in-play bets or special odds, which are aimed at encouraging users to gamble immediately.

Regarding these adverts, a statement from the ASA said:

The reference to the time sensitivity of odds may be interpreted as a call to act. The promotion of these odds in this format draws strong similarities with the message to ‘bet in play, now!’, which is discouraged in guidance on gambling advertising [relating to] responsibility and problem gambling.Statement, Advertising Standards Authority

The amount of gambling adverts that can be played is not currently regulated, but such call to actions were banned as part of stricter standards for gambling adverts in February this year. The ASA is currently deliberating whether these adverts breached these advertising codes and if a formal investigation should be launched.

Currently, gambling firms are allowed to advertise before the 9pm watershed only during live sporting events. But, this could soon change, with MPs demanding a ban on adverts during sporting events and other stricter advertising standards, as they fear that such blatant advertising of gambling before the watershed could normalise gambling among children.

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