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ASA sees drop in underage gambling ad exposure in Q3

| By Robert Fletcher
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has praised the gambling sector for its efforts to clamp down on advertising that may appeal to children, after it noted a significant decline in child-friendly ads in the third quarter.

In its monitoring report covering the period from July to the end of September, the ASA said it identified five betting adverts from three gambling operators across six websites that breached its age restriction guidelines.

This represented a sharp drop on Q2, during which the ASA flagged 70 adverts from four operators on eight websites.   

The quarterly monitoring reports form part of a year-long project in which the ASA is monitoring ads served on a sample of over 50 websites and YouTube channels with large underage audiences.

Once ads are identified, the ASA contacts the advertisers to ensure promotions are renewed, and warns them to avoid similar breaches of regulations in the future.

The sweep covers gambling, alcohol, e-cigarettes and tobacco, weight control products and food and soft drinks classified as high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS).

In total, the ASA flagged 127 age-restricted ads from 44 advertisers across 27 websites and four YouTube channels that were aimed at or were classed as having the potential to attract a disproportionately large child audience.

Incidentally, gambling was the area of least concern for the ASA in the quarter, behind alcohol with six adverts, 14 related to weight reduction and 102 HFSS ads. No ads for e-cigarettes were picked up during the monitoring period.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker praised the efforts of gambling operators.

“We’re encouraged to see advertisers, most notably in the gambling sector, taking steps to target their age-restricted online ads responsibly,” Parker said. “We expect that trend to continue, particularly amongst HFSS advertisers, throughout the remainder of this project and beyond.

“We’ll continue working with advertisers and taking action where necessary to build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children.”

The clampdown on such advertising comes after the ASA in May said children’s exposure to gambling ads has fallen to 2008 levels.

Its 2019 update on monitoring of children’s exposure to advertising for age-restricted products revealed children saw, on average, 2.5 TV gambling ads per week. This sees the rate of exposure fall to 2008 and 2009 levels, when children saw 2.2. and 2.7 gambling ads on TV, respectively.

In recent weeks, the ASA has issued a number of warnings over age-related concerns with gambling adverts. This week, tipster service Thebettingman was rapped after someone under the age of 25 was featured in an Instagram story that promoted its brand.

Last month, GVC’s Gala Spins was also sanctioned over a social media advert that drew criticism over its potential appeal to children.

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