The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned two advertisements for gambling operators Coral -owned by Entain- and Rank Digital Gaming that were described as “irresponsible.”
The Coral TV ad, aired in March, featured stylized footage of a tightly contested horse race, including close-up shots of spectators engrossed by the action. Other shots featured a lively commentator standing up from his seat and a man rushing through the crowd.
The voice-over, accompanied by shouts from the crowd, the sound of hooves on the track, and what ASA describes as “dramatic music,” says: “Exciting, isn’t it? When your horse wins by a nose. But if that’s exciting, how about three furlongs ago? Look, look, any horse could win. How about now when your horse is under starter’s orders? How long have you waited for those gates to crash open? But that’s nothing. What about earlier still? Your horse is the only horse that matters. Coral. Get closer to the action.”
Even though LC International, trading as Coral, said it wanted the ad to replicate the anticipation before races and believed it did not portray or encourage gambling behavior, two viewers complained that the ad encouraged it and that it was socially irresponsible.
Upholding the complaints, ASA acknowledged that the ad did not depict or explicitly refer to betting, but the use of Coral banners around the track in the crowd would lead viewers to interpret it as promoting gambling on horse racing with the brand.
In a statement, the authority said: “The ad’s voiceover addressed the viewer in the second person and also referred to ‘your horse winning a tightly contested race’ with no reference to losses. We considered there was a significant risk that the element of the ad could disproportionately affect, or pressure, those struggling with gambling addiction.”
According to the body, there was “a significant risk” of the ad disproportionately affecting a vulnerable group, thus concluding that it was “socially irresponsible.” The ASA believes it portrayed, condoned, or encouraged gambling behavior that was “socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.”
In a separate ruling, the advertising authority also decided that an in-app ad for a mobile casino game, Wolf Gold, suggested that gambling was “a way to solve financial concerns and achieve security.” The advertisement appeared within the Lucky Night mobile app, which belongs to Rank.
The ad stated: “Everyone wants to solve their financial problems… Click the “download” button right now and start to earn… In fact, it’s all very easy to do with our application … pay off loans, buy a car and a nice house … and make a lot of money!” The ad also added a welcome GBP 400 bonus.
Rank Digital Gaming said it had not been involved in the production or publication of the ad and had not been aware of it until it had been brought to its attention by the complaint.
Rank told the ASA that it had raised the matter with makers WakeApp, and made it clear that the nature of the content was unacceptable and in contravention of its own internal policies regarding advertising. It also stated the ad did not align with its own internal policies.
The ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form. “We told Rank Digital Gaming to ensure that their future ads, including those prepared by affiliates, did not suggest that gambling was a way to achieve financial security,” the body stated.