Last week Coral received yet another rebuke from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK after three of its games were deemed to be too appealing to children.
It was a bit of a bombshell for the industry because the games are not exclusive and the ruling could put other owners in the pathway of ASA rebukes.
What games were included?
In a ruling released last week, the ASA asked that three games — “Rainbow Riches,” “Fishin’ Frenzy,” and “Lucky Wizard” — no longer appear in their current forms, and warned Coral against depicting marketing materials that might appeal to children.
All three adverts depicted fairytale characters, such as an animated leprechaun with a pot of gold and a wizard. The CAP Code states that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Gambling ads cannot, therefore, appeal more strongly to under-18s than they do to over-18s.
Rainbow Riches is a slots and bingo game considered the UK’s most popular retail slot game. It was made and supplied by Playtech and Scientific Games and is currently available through outlets such as 888games, Virgin Games, Paddy Power, Sky Vegas, and a ton more.
When this article was written, Rainbow Riches is still available to play on these sites; so, will the fine make these companies wary that they might land in regulatory hot water?
Tough Mum love
The ladies of Mumsnet certainly think so. Jeanette is a Mum of 13- and 16-year old girls who regularly posts on the site. She said: “These types of gambling games are often talked about because it’s so easy to jump from a free game on Facebook to gambling away their pocket money.”
Jeanette said that since her two had had mobile phones for the past 5-years or so, the emphasis on games like Candy Crush has got a lot stronger. “It’s so each for them to play on their phone and then jump to a betting site, I know that there are measures to check that children can’t play these games but it’s like anything these days.
“If their friends are doing it, then they will find a way. I’d rather these types of games just be banned altogether. Why do adults need to play games that include elves and fairies?”
Coral, which is part of GVC Holdings via Ladbrokes Coral, stated that its animated characters were not “over the top” enough to appeal to minors.
However, the ASA noted that the characters were stylized, had exaggerated features, and were drawn in bright colors, making them likely to appeal more strongly to minors than adults.
Despite Coral’s insistence that they had not breached the UK CAP Code rules that detail gambling advertising regulations, the ASA ruled that the adverts were in violation on the grounds of not being socially responsible and appealing to children.
For Jeanette, this ruling just doesn’t go far enough. She said: “Now that Coral has been warned explicitly not to target children, I just hope it is the start of getting these games banned once and for all. I can’t do anything for my girls once they turn 18 and are classed as adults, but while they’re still minors, I will help campaign to stop them being lured by gimmicks.”
With Coral also receiving a smack on the wrist for its advertising and promotional policies, it remains to be seen if this latest effort by the ASA will turn the tide of child-like games that seem to appeal to the young and old alike.
Certainly, for now, other operators don’t seem to be worried. Perhaps these games are earning them considerably more than any fines that might be issued. Meanwhile, the ASA says it is getting tough on games that appeal to children, but where will they go next? We shall wait and see.