Gambling brands banned from using sports stars in ads

New regulations will force the likes of Paddy Power, Coral Racing and BetVictor to rethink their advertising partnerships with high profile sportspeople and reality TV stars.

gamblingBetting brands such as Paddy Power and Coral may see some of their recent adverts banned under new rules from the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP), which effectively put a stop to gambling companies using high-profile sportspeople in their ads.

The rules prevent gambling companies from running ads that have “strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”. These brands will be banned from featuring people or imagery in their ads that are likely to appeal to young people.

Top-flight footballers, as well as any sportsperson “well-known to under-18s”, will no longer be allowed to appear or be referenced in betting ads. Neither will reality TV stars and influencers who are popular with under-18s.

The ban also applies to ads using video game content and gameplay popular with young audiences.

CAP says this will “significantly restrict the imagery and references that gambling ads will be allowed to use”, and should decrease the potential for such ads to attract the attention of under-18 audiences.

High-profile current and former sportspeople appear in gambling ads regularly at present.

One such ad that may fall foul of the new restrictions is one from Paddy Power. The bookmaker launched an ad campaign in January featuring professional footballer Jack Wilshere. The former Arsenal and West Ham player featured in a tongue-in-cheek ad that depicts the Paddy Power team helping him to find a new club.

Wilshere is currently not playing Premier League football and is at Danish club AGF. The footballer has 2.1 million followers on Instagram.

Another betting site, BetVictor, has former Tottenham Hotspur manager and I’m a Celebrity… winner Harry Redknapp engaged as a brand ambassador. Redknapp has appeared in a number of ads for the company, including during last summer’s Euros tournaments.

Former Love Island contestant Chris Hughes also holds the role of ambassador for Coral Racing. He has featured in promotional material and ads for the bookmaker as recently as last month.

It would be up to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to determine whether an individual featured in a gambling ad counted as a sportsperson “well-known to under-18s”.

In a bid to protect under-18s from being targeted by gambling content, ads featuring individuals younger than 25 are already banned. In 2019, a Facebook ad for gambling app BetIndex was banned by the ASA because it featured young footballers, including Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, who were under the age of 25 at the time.‘Energetic, catchy, smart’: Inside Betway’s ‘one to watch’ sonic brand

The rules outlined today strengthen the existing guidance designed to prevent gambling ads from appealing to young people. Existing rules state that gambling ads should not have “particular appeal” to children. A “strong” appeal test prohibits content (imagery, themes and characters) that has a strong level of appeal to under-18s regardless of how it is viewed by adults.

CAP is strengthening these regulations after carrying out a consultation that found that regulatory changes would help to protect under-18s from gambling-related advertising harms.

The rules will come into force at the beginning of October. This means that gambling companies will be unable to use top-flight footballers in their advertising around the World Cup, which begins in November 2022.