ASA warns gambling operators to exercise caution during coronavirus (COVID-19)

ASA warns gambling operators to exercise caution during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has warned the online gambling industry of the need to pay even more attention to advertising conduct amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The ASA stated that because the nationwide lockdown has created a ‘captive audience’ and heightened uncertainty and anxiousness, many individuals are more susceptible to the risks associated with gambling. It is anticipated that gambling may be used by some as a means of distraction from the pandemic. As such, the ASA has instructed gambling operators to ensure that they comply with their responsibilities under the UK Advertising Codes. Firm action will be taken against those who do not meet the required standards and, in their marketing, fail to consider the context of the crisis and how it may affect consumers’ behaviour and expectations.

The ASA’s protection of the vulnerable includes those who are ‘innately’ vulnerable–under 18s who are not legally of age to gamble, and those who are ‘situationally’ vulnerable.

The ASA makes clear in its Code that marketing for gambling products must not be:

• irresponsible in its use of content or themes that might exploit vulnerabilities

• targeted through its content or placement at under-18s

The ASA encourages individuals to report gambling ads that refer to the coronavirus crisis or related matters, such as the government’s lockdown policy, or that include claims or themes that are particularly concerning in the current climate (eg ads that refer to relieving boredom).

Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—gambling advertising and ‘lockdown’

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