ASA Bans Four Gambling Ads Found in Looney Tunes Game

  • Children targeted in cartoon app
  • Were shown gambling adverts in return for digital currency
  • ASA said that more checks should have been in place
Children looking at their phones
The ASA banned ads from four operators after they were found in an app aimed at children.

Found to be not age appropriate

Once again, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has flexed its muscles when it comes to gambling advertisements.

In its latest ruling, the authority has taken to task four operators who they say have breached rules on inappropriate gambling. It’s part of a new drive to make sure that children and vulnerable people are not adversely affected by gambling adverts.

The four punished this time were LottoGo EuroMillions, Betfair Bingo, William Hill Vegas, and Dunder. They have collectively been told to remove the ad and prohibited from releasing them again in the same format.

The ads were shown in February during the app Looney Tunes World of Mayhem, a game containing popular children’s cartoon characters. Players could earn virtual gems and use them inside the game by viewing ads or performing various tasks. The ads involved, which were placed there in association with Tapjoy Inc, were found not to be age-appropriate in the investigation.

The association with Tapjoy Inc made the operators fall afoul of the rules. They maintain that the collaboration agreement should have ensured that the ads were only run on platforms that targeted adults.

Watch ads in return for digital currency

Because of this ruling, LottoGo EuroMillions and Dunder have ended their agreement with Tapjoy Inc.

Betfair maintained that there were numerous permissions, such as clicking away from the app to view the ads, that should have ensured that only the right audience was able to view it. The company also said that any new applications to gamble must come from adult users.

William Hill put forward a similar defense, stating that age-appropriate filters were used to keep their ad away from under-18s.

Tapjoy insisted that the game was incorrectly categorized from the start, which enabled adult advertising to creep in. It failed to agree with the operators stating that they had always worked in co-operation before the ads were uploaded to the game.

The way it worked was that users of the app were encouraged to watch these ads in return for virtual currency rewards. Once the ASA decided to investigate, it reviewed both the app and the ads offering as one.

Likely to appeal to under-18s

The ASA has revealed this week that it had found all four ads breached the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP code) rules 16.1 and 16.3.13. This featured gambling around a younger audience.

In its ruling, the ASA 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.

“However, we acknowledged that the characters would be well known to older players, and the game was likely to have more general appeal.”

Revealed in the investigation was a certification by the UK Google Play store which suggested that the game was relevant for users aged 7 and upwards, although the ads had been labeled with a mature-gambling setting.

However, the ASA found that the operators could not prove that they had taken reasonable steps to ensure the ads were aimed at an age-appropriate audience.

The authority has previously punished other operators, including William Hill, for targeting underage gamblers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *