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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled two more gambling ads seen on Twitter to be “of strong appeal to children.”

In January and February this year, Entain-owned Ladbrokes published two promoted tweets featuring managers from top-flight football clubs.

One tweet featured two images of Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe, while the other offered odds on the “next manager to leave,” alongside images of David Moyes, Frank Lampard, Brendan Rodgers and Gary O’Neil.

Ladbrokes response

Ladbrokes said the first tweet was intended as editorial content, as it contained no calls to action, promotional offers or links directing customers to its website.

It added that Eddie Howe’s online presence and career record had been considered when making the post, providing links to relevant Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, each of which had fewer than 1,000 followers.

The operator concluded therefore that “because Eddie Howe had a modest online presence and much of his managerial career had been spent outside of the Premier League, it was unlikely that he would appeal strongly to under-18s.”

The second tweet, Ladbrokes acknowledged, was commercial in nature and should not have included imagery of the managers.

The brand has since “taken steps to ensure that content of that nature would be reviewed more thoroughly to ensure future ads would comply with the advertising rules,” it said.

ASA response

The ASA upheld challenges against Ladbrokes on both counts.

“Managers of Premier League football teams were considered high risk” under UK advertising rules, it said, in terms of how likely they were to appeal to under-18s.

It argued its point due to the popularity of football among young people, given it is “an activity in which a very significant proportion of under-18s participated directly on a frequent basis, and had a general interest in through following professional teams and players across a variety of media.”

The managers featured in Ladbrokes’ ads were, at the time of publication, “all current Premier League managers and would be well known to those who followed football, and in particular fans of the clubs they managed, including children. 

“We considered based on those factors, that all five managers were likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s,” the ASA added.

Even considering Eddie Howe’s extremely limited online presence – whereas social media popularity has been cited as a high-risk factor in previous ASA rulings – the assessment could not be overridden, the authority said.

The ruling comes just one week after the ASA banned another Ladbrokes ad, featuring boxer and social media influencer Jake Paul.

Despite boxing being considered an adult-oriented sport, the authority ruled that Paul’s large following among under-18s meant he was “of inherent strong appeal” to children, and should not be used in gambling ads.

In another boxing-related ruling made recently, the ASA dismissed a complaint about a bet365 ad featuring Chris Eubank Jr., who was not considered to be of strong appeal to under-18s.

Additional ruling

The ASA also published an additional ruling today (12 July), against online bingo brand Lights Camera Bingo, which is owned and operated by Jumpman Gaming.

On the brand’s website, when customers left to open another tab in their browser, a message saying “Hey! Come Back!” appeared in the open tab, in the place of the website’s name and logo.

Lights Camera Bingo said “the intention and only purpose behind the message was to alert a customer that the website had not been closed.”

The ASA ruled, however, that the wording of the message could encourage harmful gambling behaviour or exploit the susceptibilities of vulnerable people.

“We considered that such messaging, in the context of an ad for an online bingo service, could have the effect of encouraging some people to continue gambling when they would otherwise have stopped,” the authority said.