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Ladbrokes Coral to act on affiliates after falling foul of advertising authority

Ladbrokes: ASA said firm one of four responsible for online ads that were subject of complaints
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Ladbrokes Coral have promised to “clamp down hard” on shady actions by affiliates after the bookmaker was one of four firms to fall foul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over an advert produced by a third party.

Ladbrokes, 888, Sky Vegas and Casumo were warned to clean up their act by the ASA after an affiliate associated with the bookmakers ran an advert deemed to have “targeted vulnerable people” by suggesting gambling could solve a individual’s personal and financial difficulties.

While none of the bookmakers condoned the actions and distanced themselves from the affiliate – a third party paid to direct potential punters to betting sites – the ASA deemed all stood to benefit and held them responsible.

A spokesman for Ladbrokes Coral said on Wednesday: “We take this very seriously and have been working to improve the types of advertising and marketing used by affiliates. Nobody believes this sort of ‘fake news’ marketing has a place in the sector.

“We have been reducing the number of affiliates we work with, as well as clamping down hard on anyone using our name without our knowledge in a bid to curtail this sort of activity.”

'Socially irresponsible'

The affiliate, whose relationship with all four firms has ended, ran an advertorial, an advert written in the style of a story, which suggested a individual called ‘William’ had saved himself from considerable personal strife by taking up the offer being advertised along with 'comments' from 'readers' who shared their winning stories.

This was deemed to be “socially irresponsible” by the ASA, which also took issue with the article not clearly being identified as an advert instead of a story.

The Gambling Commission has the power to fine betting companies over misleading adverts. A spokeswoman said on Wednesday: “We work closely with other regulators, including the ASA, to raise standards within the gambling industry.

"We have joint expectations that marketing and advertising in the gambling industry adheres to both our licence conditions and UK advertising codes of practice.

“We expect operators to take action to ensure that they have a clear view of what their affiliates are doing on their behalf. Where operators fail to do this, we will not hesitate to use our powers to hold them to account.”

Affiliates have become an increasingly important way for bookmakers to attract new customers, primarily through social media and websites, although they have been the subject of claims of dubious practice.

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, welcomed the ASA's response, saying: "It was clearly the right decision and the companies involved were quite rightly quick to acknowledge their failings.

"The remedial action taken will be effective, but across the piece there is a growing acceptance that licensed operators must have much better understanding of any activities which are being undertaken in their name.”

Wanda Goldwag, chairwoman of the Senet Group, the independent body set up to promote responsible gambling standards, said: "These adverts are clearly unacceptable. The behaviour of these affiliates has brought the sector into disrepute and steps need to be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again."

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Nobody believes this sort of 'fake news' marketing has a place in the sector
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