ASA warns gambling operators over ads seen by children

ASA warns gambling operators over ads seen by children

The UK advertising watchdog says it found 70 gambling ads on websites that appeal to children.

UK.- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has labelled the gambling sector as the worst offender for publishing adverts that may be seen by underage audiences.

It says that in the second quarter of 2020, it found 70 adverts from four gambling operators on online media that held particular appeal for children. 

The watchdog is carrying out a year-long campaign through which it is using avatars to mimic youngsters’ browsing behaviour and monitoring a sample of 50 websites and YouTube channels with young audiences. 

It searches for adverts that are prohibited from being aimed at under 18s. These include ads that promote gambling, alcohol, tobacco, weight control products or food and drink that is high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS).

In the second quarter, the ASA identified 159 age-restricted ads from 35 advertisers on 34 websites and five YouTube channels.

HFSS products were the worst offenders, with 78 ads identified, followed closely by gambling. Gambling ads were found on eight of the websites monitored.

Only 10 alcohol adverts were identified, all from the same brand and on the same website, and one e-cigarette ad which also appeared on a single site.

ASA did not name the four operators involved, but said they had been contacted to ensure that the promotions would not be renewed. 

ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker said: “The ASA is using technology to proactively monitor online ads to help build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children.

“We expect advertisers and the parties they contract with to use the sophisticated tools available to them to target their ads responsibly.

“This is just one part of a wider set of initiatives we’re undertaking to ensure children are protected online and we’ll report on our further work in this area in the coming months.”

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) this week hailed the success of the whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising during sporting events, claiming that this had virtually eliminated minors’ exposure to gambling promotion.

The BGC says it has created an industry working group to develop new adtech solutions to prevent underage audiences from seeing online gambling adverts.

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