London, England - The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned four gambling ads after it appeared on an app targeted towards children.
Ads for Betfair Bingo, Dunder, LottoGo EuroMillions, and William Hill Vegas appeared on the Looney Tunes World of Mayhem computer app back in February. The app had a feature where players were allowed to earn “gems” that they can use in the game by performing certain tasks or watching some ads. It was within this feature that the four gambling ads were shown.
The ASA took the erring gambling operators to task for breaching the rules on inappropriate gambling. The four operators were told to remove their respective ads and admonished not to release them again in the same format. This move is part of their drive to ensure that vulnerable individuals, including children, are not negatively impacted by gambling advertisements.
Following the ASA ruling, Dunder and LottoGo said the ads were placed in the app by Tapjoy Inc., which is their advertising affiliate. They also said that they have since ended their collaboration with Tapjoy, especially since their agreement specified that the ads should only be run on platforms targeted towards adults.
For their part, Betfair has also cut ties with Tapjoy, but they defended themselves by saying there were several permissions in place that were meant to ensure that only the right audience saw the ad. They cited the requirement to click away from the app in order to view their ads as an example of these measures. They further said that new gambling applications can only be done by adult users.
William Hill used a similar defense to Betfair, saying they used age-appropriate filters to make sure their ads were not seen by under-18s. They also blacklisted the app and said they will no longer be putting ads in it, whether through Tapjoy or any other advertising affiliate.
Tapjoy also defended themselves, saying it has been incorrectly categorised as one targeted towards adults, even having a “mature-gambling” setting. App publisher Scopely corroborates this claim, saying they did not target any of their game towards children. In fact, they said individuals below 16 years of age are not allowed to play their games.
The ASA, however, said the app has a PEGI 7 rating in the Google Play app store, which means it is suited to players aged 7 and above. They further said, “Given the use of cartoon characters, cartoonish violence, and the relatively simple nature of the game, we considered it was likely to appeal to many under-18s.” They then ruled that the banned ads should no longer be used unless specific targeting is conducted to minimise the risk of under-18s being exposed to the said ads.
William Hill has said they are now conducting a full review of the work that they do with their affiliates to prevent similar issues from happening again. Betfair has said: “This complaint relates to the actions of a third party publisher, which mistakenly opted in to accept adult advertising content--including from Betfair--on its app. This should not have happened and we immediately stopped working with the publisher once the error was discovered.”