ASA ruling against Coral – “Have another go” and socially irresponsible gambling
How careful do you have to be when advertising repeat gambling?Background
In March 2020, a Tweet on Coral’s Twitter page featured the below ad:
- “We’re as passionate about the bet as you are. So, get your stake back as a free bet if your horse fails to finish. #CoralRacing 18+, T&C’s Apply”. A link to a video ad was captioned “Have another go” and began with horses racing and superimposed text which stated “STRONG, FAST, RELENTLESS, RIDERLESS”.
- The ad then showed a jockey about to fall off his horse with the text “GET A FREE BET BACK WITH FAIL TO FINISH”, which was repeated by a voiceover.
- Finally, the ad showed a man looking disappointedly at his phone. However, his mood changed, and he began smiling when he discovered a free bet back. The voiceover then stated, “For the passion of the bet: Coral Racing”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, on the basis that it encouraged repeated gambling.
Broadly, Coral denied that the ad encouraged repeated or socially irresponsible gambling and stated that they believed the ad adhered to the ASA’s Advertising Guidance. In particular, they argued that:
- the free bet promotion was a recognised industry campaign tool that did not encourage repetitive play. It simply provided a form of insurance in the event the horse failed to finish the race
- the promotion was not designed to cause financial or social harm as consumers were not required to use additional funds if they decided to exercise the free bet
- the ad did not encourage gambling beyond what a consumer would ordinarily gamble
- the video did not insinuate that the decision to gamble was taken lightly.
The starting point is that the CAP Code states that marketing communications for gambling must not “portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm”. In addition, marketing communications should not encourage repetitive participation, trivialise gambling or give the impression that the decision to gamble should be taken lightly.
Considering this, the ASA accepted that consumers did not have to use additional funds when taking up this optional offer. However, it considered that the statement “Have another go”, alongside the video showing a man whose morale was boosted after receiving a free bet, suggested that the decision to gamble had been taken lightly. The ASA concluded that this was likely to encourage gambling behaviour that was potentially harmful as it would encourage some people to take up the offer repetitively.
The ASA held that the ad breached CAP code (Edition 12) rule16.3.1 on gambling.
Why is this important?
With online gambling trends set to continue to rise, gaming firms will increasingly be under the spotlight to ensure that their marketing communications are lawful and not socially irresponsible. It is extremely important that they ensure that their advertising to consumers do not directly or indirectly encourage gambling behaviour that may be interpreted as socially harmful by the ASA.
Gaming firms should ensure that any ads do not promote behaviour that could be socially damaging or harmful to the consumer. Advertisers should also ensure that communications do not give the impression that the decision to gamble should be taken lightly and do not trivialise gambling. The ASA specifically mentions “encouraging repetitive participation” as an example of harmful behaviour.