Tombola, an online bingo, casino and slots site, is in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of the U.K. They have been forced to retract ads from ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here” app.
The Guardian reports the ads drew scorn among its target audience. Viewers of the popular reality show, which draws an audience of nearly 12 million, including 1 million under the age of 18, use the app to place votes. Tombola’s ads, if clicked, would bring the user directly to their online gambling site, thus putting it in easy access of a million under age users.
Tombola defended the practice by citing cooperation with ITV to target an 18+ audience. Although their studies showed a 91% audience aged over 18, the 9% that were underage was just unacceptable for the ASA.
Tom Watson, the Labour party’s deputy leader, praised the ASA’s actions, saying, “Gambling ads should not be on apps that will clearly be used by kids. It’s simple.”
Commenting on their action against Tombola, the ASA commented:
“We considered Tombola Arcade should not have used the app to deliver gambling ads to consumers. We therefore considered the advertiser had not taken sufficient care, through the selection of media, to ensure that the ads were directed at an audience aged 18 and over so as to minimise under-18s’ exposure to them.”
Under age gambling is a sensitive topic in the U.K. Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, is afraid this ad being revoked might not be enough. He said, “Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and with 55,000 11- to 16-year-olds now classed as problem gamblers, it is clear more needs to be done to address this serious public health issue.”
Thankfully, the ASA’s actions seem to be doing some good to improve the problem. According to a recent report from the authority, U.K. youths are now exposed to 37.3% fewer gambling ads than they were in 2013.