ASA Suspends Ladbrokes Ad Deeming It Socially Irresponsible

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a Ladbrokes ad in the UK as it violated the regulator’s code on gambling advertisement. 

Mood Swings and Problem Gambling Behavior 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a sports betting ad by Ladbrokes, arguing that it promoted “socially irresponsible gambling behavior.” The advertisement in question depicted two separate situations starring everyday bettors who were caught in intense situations over their bets. ASA deemed the advertisement and behavior displayed in it to be at odds with its own guidance of what gambling ads should depict. 

The ad, which was aired in April, started with a voiceover that said, “I’m a nodder – up to the football, down to the app like a dog on a dashboard.” The fade-in was followed by another situation where a man was using the Ladbrokes mobile app to bet while waiting for a train.

The voiceover could be heard again saying, “When I bet, I am a frustrated manager. I kick every ball.” Then, the next scene depicted three men screaming as a goal was scored, and a video assistant referee was used to determine whether the goal was legitimate. 

A complaint was promptly lodged against the company’s ad, with the author of the complaint claiming that the company showed people who were addicted to gambling. Behavior as the one displayed in the ad was socially irresponsible, the complaint said.

Ladbrokes made a prompt reply on the issue and argued that none of the situations shot in the video suggested any sort of behavior that could be associated with problem gambling as per current guidelines.

The company also argued that it had not suggested solitary gambling as a better option than social gambling or that gambling could be an escape from financial problems, for example. However, the regulator deemed the ad to contain forms of gambling associated with addictive behavior:

“We considered that mood swings related to gambling were a problem gambling behavior. Because the ad appeared to depict a major mood swing and directly related it to the tension of potentially winning an accumulator, rather than just watching sports, we considered that the ad depicted problem gambling behavior”

ASA used the argument to conclude that Ladbrokes’ ad was socially irresponsible and has banned it as a result. 

Irresponsible Gambling Behavior in Ads

Ladbrokes was targeted by the media regulator earlier this year in February. The company displayed what ASA described as “socially irresponsible gambling behavior.” The ad displayed people who were tense over their sports betting activity, ASA said.

At the same time, ASA has reported success in restricting ads that target underage individuals. The present ruling may serve as a reminder for Ladbrokes that it’s time to change its marketing tact to make sure that it’s compliant with existing regulations. Avoiding “tense” situations which could be misinterpreted as irresponsible behavior would be a good start.