32Red in Trouble over Ads Deemed Appealing to Children

  • Two different ads appeared in Google search results for "Jack and the Beanstalk"
  • Children's story is also the title of a slot available at 32Red online casino
  • ASA deemed ads to be in breach of gambling ad rules and appealing to minors
  • Gambling operator was hit with a warning but did not get fined
complaints filing drawer
32Red received an official warning from the UKGC over two paid-search online ads that were deemed appealing to children. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Two complaints investigated

The United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has investigated two complaints regarding online gambling brand 32Red. Both complaints have been upheld.

The complaints were filed by a single person in relation to two different Google paid-search ads which promoted certain online casino games and services on offer at 32Red.

Details of the ads

Both ads appeared in the Google search results after the complainant had searched for “Jack and the Beanstalk” on April 25, 2019. 

The first ad promoted a 150% deposit bonus offer for 32Red, with bonus funds of up to £150 being available through the deal. It also referred to other promotions available daily at 32Red. The second ad was a promotion of the 32Red online casino and referred to the site’s various services, namely online slots, table games, live casino, daily offers, special bonuses, and progressive jackpot titles.

The ASA proceeded to investigate whether the two ads would be attractive to children, in view of their association with the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale in the Google search results.

both ads appeared in the Google search results after the complainant had searched for “Jack and the Beanstalk”

It also looked at whether these ads were targeting users under the age of 18, considering the context in which they appeared.

Response from 32Red

32Red confirmed that the two ads were part of a wider advertising campaign. Their focus on Google search users who were searching for terms that corresponded with some of the games on offer at 32Red, such as the Jack and the Beanstalk online slot. 

The online operator went on to say that the likes of the Jack and the Beanstalk slot are labeled high-risk games on the platform. Therefore, anyone who visits the 32Red website would have to verify their age to be able to view the said title. 

The company admitted that the Jack and the Beanstalk slot was accidentally included in the advertising campaign. After realizing the mistake, it rectified the error and ensured that any other high-risk games were not being advertised. 

32Red now has a new internal system in place, with the goal of preventing a similar issue from happening again in the future. 

Results of the investigation

When the ASA was looking into the matter, all of the organic search results for “Jack and the Beanstalk” were about the popular children’s story. The only reference to the story on 32Red was in the title of the slot game.

The ASA noted that the ads in question were in plain font, and no imagery that could be considered child-friendly was used. 

However, the authority did maintain that, due to the popularity of this children’s story, any reference to Jack and the Beanstalk could be appealing to kids. It concluded that 32Red had not been careful enough about its ad targeting. 

Code violations

The two ads were found to be in violation of the CAP Code rules 16.1, 16.3, 16.3.12, and 16.3.13, which relate to gambling companies protecting minors. The operator was issued a warning about future behavior but was not fined.

In concluding its investigation, the ASA said:

We welcomed 32Red’s action in swiftly removing the ads, but concluded they had breached the Code.”

32Red in the news again

This is not the first time that 32Red has been in trouble with the authorities. In June 2018, the gambling operator was hit with a £2m ($2.48m) fine by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). The UKGC deemed that 32Red did not properly conduct social responsibility or anti-money laundering checks on a problem gambler who had deposited £758,000 ($939,620) on its platform. 

In August 2019, 32Red was widely criticized for its role in a publicity stunt involving England soccer player Wayne Rooney.

The company has made strides to make amends by helping to promote responsible gambling. It sponsors five soccer teams in the UK, and whenever these sides play one another this season, their kits are seen to display a responsible gambling message