Online Gaming Ads Under Scrutiny

Advertisements for online gaming companies have been making plenty of headlines recently, not because of they include A-list celebrities or have received critical acclaim for their creativity but because they have been pushing the envelope when it comes to acceptable tactics.

On Wednesday, the UK’s advertising watchdog group the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) warned Paddy Power about a recent ad for the Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Conor McGregor fight last month.

The ad text “Always Bet on Black” positioned next to Mayweather who is black was deemed to be “likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race,” according to the ASA.

The ruling came in spite of Paddy Power explaining that the phrase was a play on words that referenced a common roulette saying and a cultural reference to the 1992 film Passenger 57, where Wesley Snipes (also black) answers the question of whether he plays roulette by stating, “Well, let me give you a word of advice: always bet on black.”

In addition, Mayweather himself personally approved the ad and wore underwear decorated with the saying for his official weigh-in before the fight.
As part of its ruling, the ASA stated:

We acknowledged that the headline claim did not make a negative statement about Floyd Mayweather’s race and had endorsed him to win the match. We also acknowledged that Floyd Mayweather had authorised the claim. However, we considered that readers would nevertheless be offended by the invitation to always bet on the outcome of a boxing match based on a boxer’s race, and the message that the boxing match was a fight between two different races.

Last week, the ASA cited several online gambling companies for their involvement with ads that targeted “vulnerable people” in a way that was considered “socially irresponsible.”

The ads in question described a man that was “depressed” and “£130,000 in debt after having to sell the house and continue to pay out of pocket for his wife’s cancer related medical bills their insurance WOULDN’T cover.”

The man in the ad referred to as William then miraculously discovered 888 Casino and proceeded to win “over 30 times his annual salary in a single spin, his debt and financial worries came to an abrupt end.”

But 888 was not the only company that came under fire from the ASA. Similar ads appeared on the internet promoting Ladbrokes and Sky Vegas. The companies tried to distance themselves from the deceptive ads by asserting that it was affiliate marketers that were responsible for the contents of the ads and that the ads violated their policies on how affiliates could market their online poker, casino and bingo products.

However, the ASA ultimately decided that the companies themselves were responsible for the advertising that appears on third-party web sites.
As a result, the ads were pulled and the partnerships with the offending affiliate were dissolved. Sky Vegas even went as far as cancelling its affiliate program altogether.

Many affiliates in the online gaming industry operate in what is considered to be an acceptable manner. They typically provide reviews and information on where potential customers can find Online Casino bonus and free play deals or sites where they can find some of the Best Online Slots, for example.

These types of messages are posted on the internet and distributed via social media and email as both a service to interested potential players and also to the gaming sites themselves that are looking to increase the number of people that play their games.