In the United Kingdom, Friday saw the Committee of Advertising Practice watchdog join with the Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority and the Remote Gambling Association to write a letter warning online gambling operators against placing advertisements on their websites that may appeal to minors.

The action follows an investigation conducted by The Times newspaper earlier in the month that allegedly found some operators had been routinely targeting individuals under the age of 18 by displaying freely accessible advertisements on their domains that featured cartoon and storybook characters such as Peter Pan and Moon Princess.

In the letter, the bodies reminded online gambling operators of their duty not to display advertisements that may have a ‘particular appeal to children or young persons’ before defining such marketing materials as those ‘likely to appeal more to under-18s than to over-18s’.

“The use of particular colors, cartoon and comic book images, animals, child and youth-orientated references and names of games such as Piggy Payout, Fluffy Favourites, Pirate Princess and Jack and the Beanstalk are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under-18s,” read the letter.

The letter advised online gambling operators that may be in violation of such edicts to ‘immediately amend or remove’ such materials from their websites along with from any third-party spaces including affiliate advertisements.

“We appreciate that there may be difficult and nuanced decisions to be made, particularly in cases where imagery and characters, which might have appeal to both children and adults, is used,” read the letter. “Ultimately, if you are uncertain about whether an ad might appeal particularly to under-18s, [the Committee of Advertising Practice] advises you to exercise caution and amend or withdraw the ad pending any discussion with the Committee of Advertising Practice copy advice team, especially given the overriding emphasis in the Gambling Act of 2005 and the Committee of Advertising Practice code to protect children and young people from being exploited by gambling.”

The letter additionally advised online gambling operators that the Committee of Advertising Practice has ‘various sanctions available to it’ and that it would ‘consider applying these’ against any online gambling operator that continues to display minor-focused marketing materials.