Sexist online gambling ads get fifty shades of backlash

TAGs: Advertising Standards Bureau, Australia, Jasmine Solana, Serge Sardo, Sportsbet, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

Gambling companies have come under fire for releasing provocative advertisements that critics say are degrading to women.

Last February, SportsBet released a commercial that parodied Fifty Shades of Grey, in which they showed a woman in bed with a greyhound. The betting company was accused of encouraging bestiality following the release.

Sexist online gambling ads get fifty shades of backlashThis, according to Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo, is proof that advertising standards have reached “new lows” with a style that is “crossing the line between sexist to outright misogynistic.”

“These tactics are a disturbing reflection on how far some gambling companies will go to sell their products,” Sardo told The Sydney Morning Herald, noting that the ad could influence the way men treat women.

Animal rights group Animal Liberation slammed the parody video, telling Daily Mail Australia that bestiality was “clearly implied in ambiguous light in the clip.”

“It is a federal offense and penalties are severe. Dressing the dog up demeans the animal,” the spokesman told the media outlet.

Aside from the Fifty Shades parody, there’s another SportsBet ad that included a reference to a woman performing oral sex. There’s also an online campaign that showed a man pushing his girlfriend’s face to the side so he can continue listening to a horse race.

The Advertising Standards Bureau has received at least 17 complaints in the past five years about the depiction of women in gambling ads, but only one was upheld.

Spokeswoman Sari Mattila told SMH that majority of the complaints they received were about general discrimination, health and safety and language in gambling ads.

“The [bureau] regularly commissions independent research into community perceptions to ensure the board’s determinations are in line with community perceptions,” Mattila said.

The Australian Wagering Council, which represents SportsBet, Bet365, William Hill Australia and CentreBet, said they are following the Australian Association of National Advertisers code of ethics. Incidentally, Section 2.2 of that Code of Ethics that “advertising or marketing communications should not employ sexual appeal in a manner which is exploitative and degrading of any individual or a group of people.”

Still, a spokeswoman for AWC said they are “committed to ensuring wagering advertising continues to meet community expectations into the future.”


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