The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an irresponsible ad of the local sports betting brand Coral over potential risks it could negatively affect problem gamblers.
Two complainants challenged a TV ad for the British bookmaker Coral seen in March 2022, which featured stylised footage of a horse race while some spectators were waiting for the outcome of the race, cheering. According to the complainants, the advert breached the country’s advertising laws as it portrayed and encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could result in social, financial, or emotional harm for the users.
The ad displayed the text “BeGambleAware.org 18+” in its top-left corner but also featured the bookmaker’s logo above a slogan saying “Get closer to the action”.
The gambling operator responded to the complainants’ accusations, saying that Coral’s intended to capture the excitement on the trackside and the overall crown atmosphere at horse racing events. The company further noted that the ad was aimed at appealing to a certain audience of adult horse racing fans, so the visuals and the soundtrack were specially designed to suit these objectives. According to Coral, the ad replicated the strong sense of anticipation that is usually felt before races so that the aspect of horse race spectators’ experience was recreated.
The British bookmaker does not believe that the TV advert could suggest an increase in problem gambling rates, especially because the feeling of excitement was simply a normal reaction to the anticipation of the outcome of large sporting events.
Coral’s TV Advert Breached Several BCAP Code Rules, ASA Finds
The advertising regulator in the UK took into consideration the complaints and investigated the controversial ad of the gambling company.
Under the rules of the BCAP Code, ads must make sure they do not accept, portray or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could result in social, emotional, or financial harm for the viewers. The Code also requires marketers to make sure they take all reasonable steps to protect individuals who find it hard to control their gambling habits.
Furthermore, advertisers should make sure they do not encourage customers to gamble more than they could afford to and prevent possible problem gambling behaviour and behavioural problems linked to gambling addiction.
As a result of the investigation, the Advertising Standards Authority found a significant risk of Coral’s TV advert disproportionately affecting vulnerable individuals and people at risk, which made it socially irresponsible. According to the regulatory body, the ad condoned, depicted, and encouraged socially irresponsible gambling behaviour that could lead to serious multi-level harm for people affected by it.
The ASA said that the advert violated BCAP Code rules 1.2 about responsible advertising and 17.3 and 17.3.1 about gambling. The watchdog banned it, saying that it must no longer appear in the form complained of. The ASA also told the sports betting operator to make sure its future ads were socially responsible so that they do not disproportionately affect gambling addicts and did not feature implications of behaviours and habits that could lead to problem gambling.