An online advert for a Monopoly-themed casino game will not appear again after it was found to be enticing for children. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), UK’s advertising regulator, has yet to announce the ban officially but it is said to have had the advert removed.
The advertisement, which is for a monopoly-based casino game, features the cartoon mascot of the popular board game, Rich Uncle Pennybags. It recently appeared on the Mirror Online website, which prompted a response from the ASA, the Guardian reported this week. The industry regulator has warned that the ad and its use of Rich Uncle Pennybags may appeal to children, which directly breaches its code. The mascot, universally recognized from the game of monopoly, may make the gambling game interesting to children.
The game was developed by Entertaining Play, a company based in Gibraltar and owned by Gamesys, a game developer and operator that is behind several other gaming studios, including Virgin Games. The developer claims that the cartoon character is highly unlikely to appeal to children. The advert, they argue, was designed in dull colours and not in bright, vivid tones, while the mascot did not have “exaggerated features”, nor did it resemble any cartoon character in current children’s programs.
According to the game’s developer, they have done their best to ensure that the advert would be targeted only to adults. The website where it appeared, Mirror Online, has said it added a label reading “18+”, the Guardian also writes. Still, ASA has decided that the advert must immediately be removed and must not appear again. The ruling is not yet published on the ASA website and the regulator has not yet commented on the issue.
ASA Finds Children Are Exposed to Gambling Ads Online
The Advertising Standards Authority is the regulatory body in the advertising sector in the United Kingdom and is responsible for the control and monitoring of adverts on TV, radio, the Internet, etc. According to the UK Advertising Codes, gambling adverts must never target children and young adults (younger than 18). This means that such ads must not be designed to appeal to children – for their colours, use of cartoon characters, or any other specific feature. In addition, these adverts must not be available on no-registration, free-access websites.
Last month, however, ASA published a report, claiming that they have identified adverts by 43 gambling operators on websites, freely available to children. To do that, they used an innovative monitoring technology, creating fake children’s online profiles (child avatars) that simulated the browsing behaviours of children. Even more interestingly, the experiment concluded that five gambling operators breached the rules, while 11 of all 24 children’s websites displayed gambling adverts.
None of the open-access YouTube channels, however, displayed adverts that promoted gambling products or activity. ASA also explains that in the majority of cases when the rules have been breached, this was done by third-party operators who were responsible for the advertising and marketing campaigns of different operators.