UK Regulator Bans SkyBet Advertisement

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A recent television advertisement by the SkyBet brand was pulled from being aired due to complaints from two viewers to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

The message of the advert that the viewers took issue with was the fact that it seemed to imply that those people “with a good knowledge of sports” were more likely to experience success when participating in gambling. This, the complaining viewers said, was socially irresponsible of SkyBet, leading to an investigation by the ASA.

Even though the advertisement for the sports betting brand was aired on television last year, the ruling on it, as well as the subsequent ban, was only announced on March 13th of this year.

The advert, known as the “Request a Bet” commercial, portrayed the well-known presenter of Sky Sports Jeff Stelling in front of the camera, suggesting that if you have a good knowledge of sports, then your chances at winning your sports bets are enhanced. The Sky brand introduced the “Request a Bet” function on its sportsbook, giving users of such the possibility of customising their own bets. Primarily used to gain large odds – which can also result in larger pay-outs – on combined markets, it has been quite a popular function for SkyBet punters.

In the advertisement though, Stelling appears to promote the feature by saying that in sport, anything can and does happen. Yet, he goes on to say, “…could it be better? With Request a Bet it could. Spark your sports brain and roll all the possibilities into one bet.”

It is that last line, amongst one or two others, which sparked controversy with the two viewers, who pointed out that it seems to suggest you need to be more knowledgeable of sports to stand better chances of winning. Despite the fact that the advert does promote responsible gambling, with Stelling saying at the end, “When the fun stops, stop”, the complaints were put forward to the ASA who finally chose to ban it from being aired ever again.

The reason behind the ASA’s decision on the ad, is that viewers will recognise Stelling as being an expert on sports, and with lines like “spark your brain” being included by him in the SkyBet commercial, it suggested a “strong emphasis” on people with more sports knowledge being more successful at betting. The ASA then finished off by saying that it considered the ad to provide an erroneous perception about the extent of control that a gambler has over betting results. Therefore, by potentially giving customers of SkyBet an “unrealistic and exaggerated” perception of that control, it could lead to irresponsible behaviour.

The SkyBet brand has also been warned by the ASA that it needs to ensure that future advertisements do not encourage any sort of irresponsible gambling via unrealistic perceptions of the outcomes of bets placed.

Yet, this doesn’t mark the first time that the brand has suffered some sort of backlash over ads that it has had aired on television. It was in June 2013 that the betting operator was targeted by the ASA for two different commercials that it said were misleading to consumers regarding the amount needed to bet in order to receive a free £5 bet from the platform.

Speaking of the banning of the advertisement, the CEO of SkyBet, Ian Proctor stated that more could definitely be done when it comes to responsible gambling. He said that it is something that’s important to him and at current, it is an “emotive topic”, before claiming that the gambling industry of the UK hasn’t done itself any favours. It’s now time for SkyBet to act on the numerous warnings, with the possibility for the brand to regulate its own advertising campaigns. While the ASA, nor the UK Gambling Commission, haven’t handed out any fines to this platform or others for such breaches, this could change in the future. For this reason, SkyBet does need to improve on its own advertising releases

Category:   Gambling industry