he Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) made the decision to ban a gambling advert fronted by the Jeff Stelling, a familiar face to many sports fans for presenting Soccer Saturday, for being socially irresponsible.
The TV ad promoted a Sky Bet service that allows gamblers to place wagers on combinations of events happening during a football match, such as the number of corners, red cards and goals, the Guardian reports. In the ad for the “request a bet” service, Stelling is seen calling on viewers to “spark your sports brain” and ask “how big is your sports noggin”?
The ASA received two complaints that the ad was irresponsible because it implied that if you had a good knowledge of sports you were likely to be a successful gambler.
Sky Bet, which ended its association with the TV broadcaster Sky when it was sold for £3.4bn to the owner of PokerStars last year, said the ad made no direct reference to knowledge increasing the chances of winning, but that knowledge of a specific sport “would on the whole increase a consumer’s chances of success”. It added: “Many customers researched, studied and followed sports to a degree which would give them an ‘edge’ over a bookmaker.”
Explaining the ban, the ASA said the use of Stelling, who viewers would recognise as having a particular expertise in sports, and graphics such as brain waves placed a “strong emphasis” on sports knowledge determining betting success.
“The ad gave an erroneous perception of the extent of a gambler’s control over betting success,” it said. “This gave consumers an unrealistic and exaggerated perception of the level of control they would have over the outcome of a bet and that could lead to irresponsible gambling behaviour.”
Gambling and betting companies have come under fire during a time of mounting pressure to protect children and vulnerable persons from excessive exposure to advertising.
In December, the gambling industry confirmed plans to press ahead with a voluntary ban on betting adverts during sports programmes from this summer. A month earlier Sky had announced a limit of one gambling ad per commercial break on its channels from the start of the next Premier League season in August.
Last month, the Committees of Advertising Practice, which set the rules enforced under the UK advertising code, announced a series of extra restrictions on gambling ads, including the ban on featuring young celebrities, sports stars and use of animated and licensed characters from film and TV shows.