GVC Holdings Hit by UK Ad Watchdog for Cutesy Promo

GVC Holdings

Gambling operator GVC Holdings was chastised by the advertising watchdog in the UK for offering a Facebook ad that was too cute, possibly targeting children.

When it comes to gambling advertisements, operators must adhere to strict rules and guidelines. Over the past few months, the United Kingdom has become even more stricter regarding ads in the gambling industry, particularly those who target the vulnerable and minors. Just this week, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that an ad by GVC Holdings was too cute and was a possible danger to young people.

Fluffy Favourites

The slot game Fluffy Favourites is a cute and cuddly game that features furry pet friends. It is a cartoon style game and one that might be appealing to children, if they spotted it. For the ASA, they felt the ad was too cartoon like and the wording used would appeal to children, those under the age of 18. The ad was featured on popular social media site, Facebook.

Fluffy Favourites is a popular game among players, developed by Eyecon. The reels include stuffed animals, which children often seek in a crane machine arcade game. In the eight-second ad, the game was used to promote Gala Spins, an online casino brand owned and operated by GVC.

The ASA objected the ad, even though it is only featured on the Facebook page of Gala Spins and that page is open for players 18 and over. It would not technically be seen by kids, but the ASA said it still broke the rules.

The operator said the ad and the game are not targeted at children. The video was created to target women in the UK who are 18 to 65. Gala Spins even showed the ASA the analytics from the campaign which showed the ad was seen by those 18 and over and the demographic were women.

The ASA fired back stating that they understand the targeting of the ad was to an audience who self-reported their age. Other than that, there is no prohibition on under 18 year old’s. According to the regulator, the steps offered could not ensure that the viewers were in fact over 18. Because of this, the ASA feels the ad does not comply with the requirements set when it comes to avoiding appealing to children.

Ban on Cartoon Ads

The code created by the ASA covers several areas including cartoon advertising. In the 16.1 section, it states that marketing communications for the gambling industry must be socially responsible. There is a particular need to protect children and other vulnerable people from harm or exploitation. The cartoon ad was likely to appeal to children or young people, especially because it reflected or was associated with youth culture, which is another rule broken.

Back in February 2019, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission implemented a ban on gambling game advertising that could target children. This includes ads that have cartoon characters. There is a concern that advertising will normalize gambling among young people which could lead to a gambling addiction in the future. Officials want to stop this type of addiction from happening in the first place.

A study by the UKGC showed that around 55,000 of 11 to 16 years old in Britain are considered problem gamblers. Companies who break the rules regarding advertising can face strict penalties including fines.

Regulators in the UK are wasting no time or effort in going after companies that break these rules. Additional changes are expected in the future as far as regulations are concerned as officials want to continue to protect young people as well as those who are vulnerable.

This instance with the Fluffy Favourites game ad is a prime example as to what operators are not to do with advertising and how the ASA will respond if they do.

Associate Writer: Suzie has extensive experience writing on a number of different topics, but writing on slots remains her first love, and it really shows.