ASA ‘underage sweep’ sees marked improvement in gambling advertising

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has revealed a drastic improvement in gambling-related adverts being restricted to underage audiences after the watchdog published the results of its ‘second online marketing sweep’.

Continuing its year-long project, the ASA noted that inappropriately placed online betting and gambling adverts had ‘reduced significantly, from 70 ads in the first sweep to 5 ads in the second sweep’ during the three-month period between July and September.

ASA’s first sweep had branded online gambling as the biggest offender’ of under-age advertising breaches, reporting that four operators had displayed 70 betting ads across eight websites to young audiences.

The results drew criticism of the industry, which had registered far higher breaches than alcohol and e-cigarettes.  

Industry trade body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) had remarked that gambling results would drastically improve, with members agreeing to impose new ‘proactive safeguards’ which had been agreed on in May as part of the BGC’s new ‘Action Plan’.

A breakdown of ASA latest results revealed that just five different betting ads from three gambling operators appeared on six websites with no breaches recorded across YouTube channels.

In October, all BGC members agreed to abide by the terms of the ‘Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising’. All operators ensured that social media campaigns would only target audiences aged over 25.

In addition, all gambling-related content on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter would require age verification filters as BGC members underlined a ‘zero-tolerance attitude to under-18s advertising’.

ASA will continue its marketing sweeps, in which the body stated that its concerns had shifted to the ‘high in fat, salt or sugar’ (HFSS food) category in which it uncovered 102 ad breaches by 35 advertisers appearing on 27 websites and 4 YouTube channels.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker welcomed the progress. He said:  We’re encouraged to see advertisers, most notably in the gambling sector, taking steps to target their age-restricted online ads responsibly. We expect that trend to continue, particularly amongst HFSS advertisers, throughout the remainder of this project and beyond.

 “We’ll continue working with advertisers and taking action where necessary to build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children.”

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