ASA upholds complaint against BetVictor

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against a Facebook advertisement from BetVictor that featured then-Barcelona football players Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

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The ASA found that the advertisement had broken the UK’s code of conduct because it was ‘likely to have strong appeal to under-18-year-olds.’

In its response to the ruling, BetVictor stated that it believed it had not breached the Code because ‘CAP guidance stated that when a person or character was used to illustrate a subject of strong appeal to under-18s, their association with the subject was not a basis alone for the ASA to find an ad in breach of the Code.’

Furthermore, BetVictor noted that neither player was a star like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo; also, the players had not played a match against a Premier League team since 2019 – and neither had played against Wales or England at the time when the advertisement aired.

However, the ASA found that the Code was breached, as the Code has stated since 2022 that ‘marketing communications for gambling products must not be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. They must not include a person or character whose example was likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who had strong appeal to those aged under-18.’

Commenting on the ruling, Felix Faulkner, a solicitor at Poppleston Allen, said: “This latest ruling gives us a clearer picture of which football players the ASA considers to be captured by the new guidelines.

“This is the first time we've had a ruling on players who play for teams outside the UK, which widens the scope beyond what the ASA has looked at previously in terms of the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) guidance that came into effect in October last year.”

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