This week, the UK advertising watchdog found another regulatory violation of a sports betting ad.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that an Instagram post for XLMedia, trading as freebetsdotcom, that combined betting offers from other providers violated the Code as it featured an individual who was likely to be found particularly attractive by underage audiences.
Two complaints of the offers seen on July 11th and 12th, 2023, which featured an image of Mason Mount, a professional football player from Chelsea F.C., were lodged, challenging whether the advert violated the Code because Mr Mount was under 25 years of age.
The advertising regulator of the country took action to investigate further but XLMedia plc failed to respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The Advertising Standards Authority was actually concerned by the company’s lack of response on one hand and its apparent disregard for the Code, on the other hand. Eventually, it ruled that the Instagram post of XLMedia had violated the CAP Code rule 1.7 regarding unreasonable delay and reminded the operator that it had the legal obligation to respond as quickly as possible to regulatory enquiries. The ASA further instructed the company to make sure it does so in the future.
Marketing Campaigns Should Not Feature Under-25s at Significant Roles, CAP Code States
Currently, under the provisions of the CAP Code, operators are required to make sure that their adverts do not feature anyone who is or seems to be under 25 years of age.
According to the competent authorities, such individuals should not be given a significant role in companies’ marketing communications because they could be associated with youth culture and be of particular interest to underage individuals. The only exception to this rule applies to specific marketing communications where a wager could be placed directly through a transactional facility, such as, for example, a gambling company’s own online betting platform.
The CAP Code rules also state that all operators must make sure they prepare all of their marketing communications responsibly to consumers and society so that they make sure potential customers are well-protected against possible harm.
As a result of the investigation held after receiving the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority acknowledged that the service offered by freebetsdotcom was not gambling in its nature, as it would only place customers in a position where they would be interacting with an actual gambling service. Still, the advertising watchdog of the UK considered it would not be socially responsible on the company’s part to use someone under 25 years of age in a major role in its adverts.
Mason Mount’s image was the centrepiece of the controversial advert and that was exactly the reason why the ASA considered that the Chelsea footballer played a significant role in the marketing campaign in question. The advertising regulator also found that the player was 24 years old at the time when the advert was published.
Eventually, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the ad was irresponsible because it was for a service that should have facilitated gambling and featured a person who was under 25 years of age as a central part of the campaign. The regulatory body said that the advert violated Cap Code rule 1.3 regarding social responsibility and ordered the company to make sure it appears in its current form never again.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.