Linking gambling with sexual success
Bookmaker William Hill has come under fire after one of its betting advertisements breached ASA guidelines. The ad in question was sent to punters looking for love on the dating app Tinder.
The supposedly tongue-in-cheek advert referred to “the friend zone,” and suggested that singles should instead embark on a relationship with gambling.
The advert itself was published across the Tinder platform on March 11, shortly before well-known Cheltenham horse races were due to start.
The message read, “Stuck in the friend zone? You won’t be for much longer if you use this Cheltenham free bet offer,” followed by a link to download the William Hill app.
After a complaint from a prospective punter, the advert was found to have broken advertising rules by linking gambling with sexual success.
Could be interpreted differently
While William Hill said that it did not intend to link gambling and relationships, the company agreed upon reflection that it could have been interpreted differently.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged that the company removed the ad upon the complaint, but based their ruling on the text and the illusion that those who gambled would be more likely to score in a relationship than as a friend. The popular term “friend-zone” was coined for friendships that never progressed any further.
The ASA continued that the ad must not appear again in its current form.
Tinder advertising standards
Tinder said that the ad had been reviewed to ensure it did not breach guidelines, namely that it was not socially irresponsible, offensive, or aimed at minors. The ad passed the screening and was approved for distribution to selected users.
The Bishop of St. Albans, Dr. Alan Smith, said that he believes the ruling would be a wake-up call to the industry. The bishop has vocally campaigned for tightening regulation of gambling advertising. He said: “I have been left speechless by this desperate type of advertising.”
Bishop calls self-regulation “farcical”
His statement continued: “The gambling industry’s approach to self-regulation appears farcical as more of these adverts are exposed. I fear some betting firms are now operating under a ‘don’t get caught’ mentality.”
In response to the ruling, William Hill said: “We take on board what the ASA have said about this particular advert and have removed it from circulation.”
The ASA has previously shown that it means business when it comes to operators breaching advertising guidelines and recent rulings have shown that the authority is willing to hand out hefty fines.