Sportsbet Receives Nearly 800 Complaints for Betting Ad

An advert by Sportsbet has received a record number of complaints for implying a link between betting and sexual success, in addition to being sexist.

Slap on the wrist

Online bookmaker Sportsbet, based in Australia and owned by Paddy Power Betfair, is one of Australia’s biggest. However, according to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald, a recent betting advert from the company has received a negative response.

Ad Standards, the country’s independent advertising complaints mediator, is reported to have received around 800 complaints because of the Sportsbet ad, making it a record. The advert in question shows a man naked from the waist up, which the report notes, appears to “manscape” his genital area.

A complaint published by the Ad Standards said: “This sends a false message to young males that gambling will improve their sexual appeal.”

Others called the advert “degrading”, “inappropriate”, and “gross and creepy.”

Fiona Jolly, CEO of Ad Standards, said that consumers are becoming more aware of the standards that advertisers are required to abide by.

“This year we’ve had two ads that have broken the record for the biggest number of complaints and, of interest, is [that] all of the top 10 were on free-to-air television,” Jolly added.

According to Ad Standards, it has received around 6,600 complaints relating to adverts this year. This is, reportedly, another record. The second most complained advert this year received 700 complaints. Prior to this, the previous record was from a 2014 dating website advert, which received 481 complaints.

Jolly noted that the ads that receive the most complaints are those that depict women and sexualized images. She said: “Advertisers need to really think about who they’re going to be showing the ad to – so not who they’re targeting, but who the ad is actually going to be seen by.”

Targeting young children

Games too have received criticism, particularly those that may attract a younger audience.

For instance, in September, it was reported that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had banned a betting advert for targeting children in an app. According to the report, the bookmaker was William Hill and the ad, Vegas games, was noted as appearing in an app called New Mario Kart 8 Trick.

The report highlighted the fact that the betting ad was targeted at under-18s. The app had a PEGI rating of 3, making it suitable for all ages. William Hill tried to claim that the app was not targeted at children and that 86% of players were over the age of 18. ASA disagreed.

In May, the ASA banned three fairytale games on a website after it was thought that they may appeal to young children. The games in question were Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood, Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel, and Fairies Forest. They also had images of a wolf, a pixie and a fairy in a forest.

Last October, 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 asking them to remove any gambling adverts that may appeal to those under the age of 18.

At the time, they wrote: “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.”

The letter was in answer to an investigation from the Times, which found that the favorite cartoons and characters used by gambling operators were those including Peter Pan, Moon Princess and Jack and the Beanstalk.