UK Watchdog Pulls Coral Tweet but Clears Ladbrokes Ad

  • Both UK sportsbooks received rulings from Advertising Standards Authority following complaints
  • Five complaints claiming Ladbrokes spot portrayed gambling as a priority not upheld
  • ASA found Coral’s tweet of Fail to Finish offer encouraged repetitive gambling, breached CAP Code
facade of a Coral betting shop in the UK
The ASA upheld a complaint concerning a tweet by Coral but cleared claims that a Ladbrokes advert broke the CAP Code. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

ASA ruling delivered today

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today delivered two decisions on UK sportsbook brands Ladbrokes and Coral. This comes after the UK watchdog received five complaints over a Ladbrokes TV advertisement and one report regarding a tweet posted by Coral on its official Twitter account.

five complaints over a Ladbrokes TV advertisement and one report regarding a tweet posted by Coral

The ASA found that the Coral tweet broke the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code). This states that marketing communications must not portray, condone, or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social, or emotional harm.

Coral and Ladbrokes both form part of GVC Holdings, a leading international sports betting and gambling group.

Ladbrokes TV ad passes

The Ladbrokes TV advert, broadcast on February 29, cast actors in real-life situations such as filling up a car with petrol, buying a sandwich, and choosing a dress.

The first actor shows excitement when the price on the gas station pump stops at £77.77 ($97.86), as a voice-over is heard saying: “It’s all about getting them to line up.” The advert goes on to show a man saying “hit me” twice when adding a filling to his sandwich. Next, a woman in a clothes shop spins a clothing rail with alternating red and black clothes.

The five complaints made alleged that the advert was comparing everyday scenarios to gambling opportunities, breaching the CAP code by portraying gambling as taking priority in life. However, the complaints were not upheld.

the brief scenarios depicted did not present gambling as indispensable or imply that it took priority”

In its ruling, the authority said that while the characters were “momentarily reminded” of gambling, they were not distracted from carrying out their tasks. It added: “We also considered that the brief scenarios depicted did not present gambling as indispensable or imply that it took priority in any aspect of the characters’ lives.”

Coral complaint upheld

On the other hand, despite receiving just one complaint, the ASA upheld the view that Coral’s racing tweet encouraged repeated gambling and was irresponsible.

The tweet, published in March 2020, said: “We’re as passionate about the bet as you are. So, get your stake back as a free bet if your horse fails to finish. #CoralRacing 18+, T&Cs Apply.” It included a link to a video advert captioned “Have another go.” The video featured a jockey about to fall off his horse, followed by text stating “Get a free bet back with Fail to Finish.” It then showed a man looking disappointed until he looked at his phone and smiled.

Coral stated that Fail to Finish, where consumers receive a free bet token matching their bet value up to £10 ($12.58) if a racehorse fails to get to the finish line, is a recognised industry campaign mechanic. It added that the advert was not designed to encourage repetitive play.

“Have another go”

While the ASA acknowledged that the Fail to Finish promotion did not oblige consumers to take up the offer and that no additional funds were required, it said that the claim “Have another go” together with the video gave the wrong impression.

the claim “Have another go” together with the video gave the wrong impression

It suggested that the decision to gamble had been taken lightly in the advert, meaning it could have pushed customers to take up the offer repetitively. The ASA concluded that: “The ad was likely to encourage gambling behaviour that was potentially harmful and therefore breached the CAP Code.”

The ASA decided that the tweet and video must no longer run in its current form. It has ordered Coral not to present further promotions in ways that are likely to encourage repetitive participation in gambling.