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ASA rules against Festival Free Bets

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Because Astrid Witt, a young social media influencer posted an ad for Festival Free Bets, the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complainant’s complaint.

On 12 March 2024, the advertisement was posted on X by Wett under 25. The advertisement featured a photo of Wett on the Cheltenham Racecourse. It was questioned if the advertisement violated gambling advertising rules, since Wett had only been 23 at the time.

The ASA responded that Wett was not aware of age restrictions for ads promoting gambling, as set forth by the CAP Code. She assumed that she was old enough to be able to gamble.

The CAP Code outlines the rules that apply to certain types of advertising in UK.

According to the ASA, Wett apologised and understood the need for responsible gambling.

ASA is “concerned by the lack of communication” from Festival Free Bets

Festival Free Bets, however, did not reply to the ASA. The body stated that it was “concerned by” the “lack response and apparent disrespect for the code”.

ASA ruled that Festival Free Bets violated rule 1.7 of the Cap Code. The rule stipulates that the ASA would be in breach if it took an unreasonable amount of time to investigate.

Festival Free Bets was reminded by the ASA that they have a duty to answer all enquiries quickly and requested to continue to do so.

The ASA stated in its report that people under 25 years of age should not be given a prominent role in gambling advertising. Marketing communications in which a wager is directly placed through an online transactional system, like the website of a gambling operator, are the exception.

The ASA stated that “even though we acknowledge Festival Free Bets is not a gambling service provider itself, it will place the consumer in a situation where they are interacting with gambling providers.”

We therefore thought it was irresponsible for them to use someone under the age of 25 in their advertisements.

Ads ruled irresponsible

ASA ruled, in the end, that Wett played a major role and was at the center of the ad. According to the body, this ad violated CAP Code Rule 1.3 which requires that all marketing be done responsibly.

The issue was referred by CAP to its compliance team. Festival Free Bets was told by the ASA that this ad should not be repeated and ads must only feature individuals older than 25 years old.

In recent months, the ASA criticised a variety of gambling advertisements. It ordered LeoVegas in March to remove a radio advertisement for BetUK. Adebayo Akinfenwa was a retired soccer player who appeared in the ad. The ASA ruled that it could be appealing to children.

The ASA looked into a complaint about a Mecca Bingo ad which suggested gambling could boost self-esteem. The complaint was eventually upheld.

Last month, the ASA reaffirmed its advertising guidelines for operators ahead of Euro 2024. Advertisers are not allowed to feature footballers or other individuals younger than 25 years old in their ads. Advertisements must not be directed at anyone under 18 years old.

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