ASA Bans Monopoly-Themed Gambling Ad on Mirror Online

Friday, May 10th, 2019 | Written by April Bergman
ASA Bans Monopoly-Themed Gambling Ad on Mirror Online

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a Monopoly-themed gambling ad on the Mirror Online website breached UK advert codes, according to The Guardian. The regulator found that the Rich Uncle Pennybags advertisement could appeal to UK children.

Under the United Kingdom’s laws, gambling ads cannot be designed to appeal to children. The ASA’s standards apply to ads on television, computer games, social media, gaming apps, and football shirt sponsorships.

While the ASA has not published a ruling on the Monopoly ad yet, The Guardian reported that the regulator told Entertaining Play, the Gibraltar-based gaming group behind the ad, not to show it again.

The ASA’s actions come soon after the UK Gambling Commission released a report that detailed a rise in underage gambling in the United Kingdom.

UK Underage Gambing a “Generational Scandal”

The Gambling Commission’s study showed that real money gaming among UK children age 11 to 16 rose by 55,000 over the past two years alone. One British MP called the uptick in underage gaming a “generational scandal“.

Many point to the heightened use of smartphones for gambling. Mobile casinos and live in-play sports betting apps make it much easier to bet on the go. A generation of UK children grew up playing games on their Android phones and iPhones, so now they are migrating to mobile gambling.

Gambling Ads to Blame for Underage Gaming?

Other anti-gambling activists do not point to smartphone gambling, but instead to the bombardment of children with gaming ads. Those critics point out that mobile casinos and smartphone betting apps existed before 2016, when the uptick began.

What they point to is the pervasive gaming ads found during television and live-streamed sporting events. One study showed that viewers of the 2018 World Cup saw as much as 90 minutes of gambling advertisements during the tournament.

90 Minutes of World Cup Betting Ads

ITV, for example, carried over 8 and 1/2 hours of advertisements to British audiences during the World Cup. Of those 8+ hours of adverts, over an hour and a half of them were gambling ads. It amounts to between 15% to 20% of ads the World Cup audience faced.

Given the high level of viewership by underage sport fans, the betting ad barrage could account for some of the rise in children’s real money gambling. Other factors play a role, of course.

Twitch Gaming Live Streamers

The controversy over the connection betweeen Twitch live streamers and the gambling industry continues. On Twitch and YouTube, gamers who stream their gaming sessions live are popular among the millennial and Gen Z generations.

Most of the popular streamers stick to non-gambling games such as Fortnight, League of Legends, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Certain streamers accept partnerships with real money gaming sites and fit ads for those sites in their streaming content.

With the most famous streamers able to parlay their large viewership into gaming ad cash, callouts have little effect. Problem gambling researchers, watchdog groups, and lawmakers have called for a strict ban on such gaming adverts.

UK Gambling Industry Under Siege

Whether such bans happen or not is anyone’s guess, but the UK gambling industry must tread lightly. The UK public seems to have turned against its gaming industry to a certain degree, while the government continues to squeeze the industry. The FOBT bet minimum policy and the POCT tax increases are examples that the mood has turned against British gaming interests.

In that light, gaming companies must be particularly careful about the ads they run. Any advertisement based on a children’s board game like Monopoly is a terrible idea, even if IGT Monopoly Slots have been popular for decades.