CAP issues advice notice on the marketing of gambling on eSports on social media
How do gambling operators stay on the right side of the advertising rules when creating marketing for gambling on eSports on social media?The key takeaway
The CAP Code rules that apply to the traditional marketing of gambling also apply to eSports and cover social media in the same way as they do all other non-broadcast media.
In July 2019, GambleAware published interim findings on its project to evaluate the impact of gambling advertising and marketing on children, young people and other vulnerable groups. Part of their work included a dedicated study looking at gambling marketing on social media.
A significant proportion of tweets highlighted within the report were eSports-related, with some of those tweets explaining how consumers can gamble on eSports. Having assessed the report and analysed a sample of the data, the Committee of Advertising Practices (CAP) created an advice notice on eSport-related gambling marketing on social media.
The advice notice applies to gambling marketing on all social media platforms, including, but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Twitch and TikTok.
Recognition of marketing
If a promotion is being advertised by a third-party social media account then it needs to be clear, this also includes affiliate marketing. CAP recommend using a clear identifier when the content is an ad, ie “#ad” at the beginning of the post.
Marketers must target ads responsibly for gambling on eSports on social media. CAP Code Rule 16.1 states that “marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited”.
The rules require that marketers take all reasonable steps to:
- ensure that advertising is not targeted at under-18s, either through the selection of media or the ad’s content
- prevent advertising directed at adult audiences posing a risk to under-18s.
Appeal to under-18s
If the ad holds particular appeal to under-18s due to its content or placement then the ad is likely to be of concern. CAP Code Rule 16.3.12 states that “marketing communications must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”. Marketers should note that the ASA has previously ruled that cartoon-like imagery, characters that are recreated as toys and highly animated and stylised exaggerated features are all likely to hold particular appeal to children.
Terms and Conditions
Significant T&Cs which are likely to influence a consumer’s understanding of an offer should be made sufficiently clear in gambling ads on social media (including offers of free bets and bonuses).
The CAP Code Rule 8.17 states that “all marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead”. The terms and conditions in promotions must be made suitably clear and those that are significant T&Cs are very likely to be required in a post itself on social media.
Affiliates of gambling operators must also abide by the strict targeting and content rules. Beneficiaries of an affiliate’s marketing material will be held equally responsible for the ad.
Gambling operators are also held responsible for the content produced for them on social media by influencers. Remember - if an influencer has a strong youth appeal or a significant child audience, they may not be suitable for use in a gambling campaign.
Why is this important?
Given the global suspension of nearly all sporting events, eSports has gained a vast amount of popularity. Given that the demographic of players and fans of eSports are under 18, marketers should ensure they are well versed in the rules and ensure their campaigns adhere to the rules.
Any practical tips?
The ASA has made it clear that they are keeping a close eye on the marketing of gambling ads relating to eSports. Marketers should remember that they have responsibility for ensuring that the advertising of their content must be compliant, irrespective of the use of affiliates or social influencers.
Marketers should always step back and consider the risks and potential for harm of their ads whilst also taking into account the demographic of eSports fans and players.