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Ladbrokes first to fall foul of fresh gambling ad regulation

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By Hannah Bowler

December 21, 2022 | 5 min read

ASA kicks off enforcement of new gambling regulations by taking action against bookie’s Premier League tweets.

ASA bans ladbrokes Twitter ads for appealing to under 18s

Ladbrokes recreated epic Rocky scene with added extras in ad from August / Ladbrokes

Ladbrokes has become the first gambling brand sanctioned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for breaking new gambling regulations.

The watchdog has banned a set of tweets from Ladbrokes featuring Premier League footballers after deeming them to strongly appeal to under-18s.

On October 1 fresh Cap regulation came into force that banned gambling marketers from using high-profile figures or characters that have a strong appeal to children. The new rules led to Betfair replacing its brand mascot to ensure ads steer clear of an ad ban.

The tweets from Ladbrokes seen in October included a video that featured footballers Philippe Coutinho, Jesse Lingard and Kalidou Koulibaly. The accompanying text read: “Can these big summer singings make the question marks over their performances go away?”

Since Premier League footballers are considered high risk within the new Cap guidance, the regulator decided to launch its own investigation into the ad.

In the ruling, the ASA claimed a significant number of under-18s participated in football and would be interested in following professional players online. It added that the three footballers played for clubs where children were fans and also played international football, which would have a strong appeal to kids.

In its defense, Ladbrokes said the tweet was a piece of “brand engagement” and not an advert. It added that the tweet had no calls to action, promotional offers or links back to Ladbrokes site.

A big part of Ladbrokes’ response was around Twitter’s over-18 user policy, with the brand claiming its feed could not be accessed by children. Ladbrokes acknowledged the age of a Twitter account wasn’t always accurate, so it made sure to include over-25 targeting and provided data from Twitter that proved out of 50,666 impressions 0% reached users who were under 20.

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The regulator made clear that since Twitter has self-verified age sign-ups, there was no way Ladbrokes could guarantee “with the highest level of accuracy” that under-18s wouldn’t have seen the ad.

The ruling comes after an ASA report found a shocking 1.6 million children have falsely registered as over 18 on websites and social sites. In response to the report the regulator’s director Guy Parker said that targeting solely on the basis of age data is unlikely to be enough to stop children from seeing age-restricted ads.

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