Ladbrokes advert cleared by ASA

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

A television advert for Ladbrokes has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following complaints from viewers in the first test of the new gambling advertising laws in Great Britain.

The Ladbrokes campaign is the campaign to be formally investigated since the law on advertising gambling was relaxed to allow casinos and bookmakers to advertise on television for the first time.

The advert featured banter between ex-footballers turned TV-pundits such as Ian Wright and Lee Dixon with the strapline "Everyone's got an opinion, what's yours worth?". It has been reported that viewers complained that the use of football celebrities might encourage young people to gamble, that the advert plays on "male bravado and peer pressure" and could also "influence vulnerable people". This would be contrary to one of the three licensing objectives under the 2005 Act, which is to protect children and vulnerable people "from being harmed or exploited by gambling".

The ASA’s CAP (non-broadcast) and BCAP (broadcast) Advertising Standards Codes (Codes) were updated at the same time that the Gambling Act 2005 came into force. In particular, the Codes state that adverts should not:

  1. Portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm;
  2. Exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons;
  3. Suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns;
  4. Link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness; or
  5. Be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.

The ASA cleared the advert of all complaints made against it.