A complaint by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling has caused three games to be banned on a gambling website because of the perceived likelihood that they would appeal to children.
Advertising Standards Authority bans games
The three games in question were Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood, Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel, and Fairies Forest. Gambling website m88 promoted these games in January; however, the UK’s Campaign for Fairer Gambling complained that they were likely to attract children with their depicted fairytale characters. The games in question had images of a wolf, a pixie, and a fairy in a forest, reports The Guardian.
Advertising rules require that gambling adverts should not appeal to young people or children. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) deemed that the Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood was based on Little Red Riding Hood, a popular children’s fairytale, with its animation of a fairy and a wolf. The Hansel and Gretel game featured a moonlit forest with stars and gambling coins.
“We considered that fairies were highly popular with young children, particularly young girls,” the ASA said. “Furthermore, we noted that the wolf was heavily stylized with exaggerated facial features and included a long muzzle, big eyes, and a prominent nose.”
It subsequently ruled that all three games would appeal to children and that they shouldn’t appear in this form again.
In response to the complaint by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, ProgressPlay, trading as the m88 site, only made the games accessible after members had logged into their account. It also changed the games to remove images of fairies and “any other unsuitable character.”
According to the m88 website, though, because the games were produced by a third-party software company, they appeared on other websites in their original form run by gambling operators.
Peter Pan and Jack and the Beanstalk
In October 2017, the Gambling Commission, the ASA, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) wrote a joint letter to more than 450 online gambling operators urging them to remove gambling ads that may appeal to those under 18. Some of the companies included William Hill, 888 and Bet365.
At the time, the regulators said: “The use of particular colors, cartoon and comic book images, animals, child- and youth-orientated references and names of games such as ‘Piggy Payout’, ‘Fluffy Favourites’, ‘Pirate Princess’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under 18s.”
It added that the operators face possible sanctions if gambling ads continue to be seen that appeal to minors.
The letter from the regulators followed an investigation in October from the Sunday Times, which showed that favorite cartoons and characters such as Peter Pan, Moon Princess, and Jack and the Beanstalk were being used by gambling operators.
The investigation found that the operators were taking advantage of a loophole in the rules that enabled them to promote games that appeal to young children without violating Gambling Commission regulations. The stakes on the games were listed as being between 1p (1.33 cent) and £600 ($800).
With around 450,000 children gambling in England and Wales every week, concern is mounting that young people will become hooked on betting games. Lord Sugar, presenter of the TV show The Apprentice, has said in the past: “We must stop encouraging a gambling culture among young people”.
Other websites targeted
Gambling websites fun88 and letou have also been targeted by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling. According to the Guardian report, six games have been banned from appearing on the websites after they were deemed to have a potential appeal to children.
The games in question featured images of birds, a pixie, a girl with long blonde hair, two penguins, a dragon, a polar bear wearing a Santa hat, a rabbit, a young girl, a polar bear cub, and a castle and a princess.
Vegas Slots Online reached out to m88 for a comment but didn’t hear back from them at the time of publishing.