UK gambling operators have received rare praise from the local advertising watchdog for reducing the number of gambling promos on ‘kid-friendly’ websites.
Last Friday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) released the latest report on its new program of occasionally ‘sweeping’ the interwebz for signs of ‘age-restricted’ advertising appearing in children’s media.
In the previous report this summer, the ASA’s search of 50 YouTube channels and kid-friendly sites found 159 incidents of age-restricted ads, of which nearly half involved gambling. The other verboten products included alcohol, e-cigarettes/tobacco, weight control products and food high in fat/salt/sugar (HFSS).
In the most recent report, the ASA scanned 49 websites and seven YouTube channels from July to September 2020, ultimately detecting 127 age-restricted ads posted by 44 different advertisers. Miracle of miracles, only five gambling ads from three operators were found on six sites and zero YouTube channels.
By contrast, there were six alcohol ads, 14 weight-loss pitches and 102 HFFs promos (although half of the latter group consisted of technical breaches, i.e. products that would have limited appeal for children, such as cooking sauces and olive oil).
The ASA celebrated the ‘significant’ drop in gambling ads, a decline the watchdog deemed ‘encouraging’ given the sector’s dominance in the previous report. The ASA also noted that none of the gambling operators that were contacted in April as the nation underwent pandemic lockdown were found to have strayed outside their age-restricted boundaries in the latest sweep.
The ASA was so enamored with the gambling industry’s response that it expressed hope that this trend would be “mirrored in other sectors” in future reports. ASA CEO Guy Parker said his outfit would continue to work with industry groups and to take action when necessary “to build a culture of zero tolerance” for advertisers exposing kids to age-restricted come-ons.
Predictably, the usual UK media suspects who jump all over gambling operators whenever the ASA finds the slightest fault with their marketing have been utterly silent regarding the watchdog’s latest report. We’re sure that’s just a temporary oversight, possibly due to a distracting excess of paparazzi beach photos of pseudo-jailbait teen celebrities in revealing bikinis that weekend.