On 10 January 2018 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) published a revised ruling against Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd in respect of a TV ad found to be in breach of the BCAP Code on the basis that it condoned irresponsible attitudes towards gambling. The ruling was revised following an independent review of the original ruling from July 2017.

The Ad

The TV ad aired on 16 April 2017 and featured several footballers playing football and, more specifically, successfully taking risks and out-manoeuvring and out-playing their opponents. A dramatic soundtrack and voiceover accompanied the ad which stated “The beautiful game you can watch it or you can get involved in it with the latest Coral action. So are you a spectator or are you a player? You decide. Coral. Get in on the action.”

Two complainants argued that the voiceover implied that only gamblers were true players and that gambling was better than spectating, challenging that this meant the ad was harmful and irresponsible.

Coral argued that the voiceover asked whether the viewer was interested in both watching and betting. They did not see the voiceover as overly pushy or aggressive. In particular they stressed the “you decide” statement, suggesting that this gave the viewer the option of making an informed choice.

Clearcast also commented that they did not believe the ad encouraged a viewer to stop watching the sport to gamble. They accepted that the ad encouraged viewers to place a bet but did not view this as at the expense of spectating; the ad merely suggested that spectating and betting could be simultaneous. They viewed the “you decide” statement as suggesting that viewers could chose to bet and, as such, they were satisfied that the ad was socially responsible.

The ASA’s ruling

The ASA held that the ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social Responsibility) and 17.3.5 and 17.3.6 (Gambling). They found that, whilst the voiceover was not overly pushy or aggressive, the emphasis given to the word “player” - which they understood to refer to a successful person - suggested that gambling could lead to personal successes. They also considered that the stylised shots of the footballers suggested that the gambler was equivalent to the successful player and that the phrase “Get in on the action” reinforced the impression that it was better to gamble than merely spectate. Consequently, they upheld the complaint on the basis that “the ad was likely to suggest peer pressure to gamble, disparage abstention and suggest that gambling could enhance personal qualities”.

Click here to view the full ASA ruling.