In the United Kingdom and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld an earlier judgement against the Ladbrokes online gambling and sportsbetting brand of prominent operator Entain after determining that one of its television commercials had breached local responsible marketing protocols.

The regulator used an official press release to detail that Gibraltar-based LC International Limited trading as Ladbrokes had broadcast an advertisement in October featuring various people using their mobile phones to place wagers on a horse race while sat inside a café. The watchdog explained that one of these players had been depicted as a seemingly distracted man with a trembling leg accompanied by a voice-over that asserted ‘Come starter’s orders, I’m a bag of nerves.’

Dodgy depiction:

The ASA stated that the television commercial had broken its advertising code by portraying ‘gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible’ owing to the fact that the nervous bettor was apparently ‘preoccupied with the race while his food remained untouched.’ The regulator moreover pronounced that the ‘bag of nerves’ comment in the advertisement was likely to suggest that the man had placed a horseracing bet and was subsequently ‘engrossed in the race to the extent that his companion had to point out his actions to bring his attention away from watching the television.’

Operator assertion:

The Ladbrokes brand had earlier protested that the commercial was acceptable because it had pictured people in normal every-day situations with the voice-over simply in reference to the natural nervousness that often accompanies the beginning of a sporting event. The operator furthermore claimed that ‘the scene in question did not depict gambling’ and had not shown the man placing a bet or mention whether he may have had any money at stake.

Final finding:

However, the ASA disagreed with this assessment and declared that such advertisements ‘must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behavior that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.’ The regulator additionally proclaimed that marketers should endeavor to avoid portraying such practices including ‘detachment from surroundings and preoccupation with gambling.’

Read a statement from the ASA…

“For those reasons, we concluded that the ad depicted gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible and therefore breached the code. We told LC International Limited trading as Ladbrokes to ensure future ads did not depict gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible such as detachment from surroundings and preoccupation with gambling.”