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ASA upholds ruling on BetVictor ad featuring Barcelona stars

BetVictor gambling news

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) stated on April 19 that it maintained its ruling against BetVictor regarding an alleged breach of the country’s gambling advertising regulations.

The ASA’s ruling relates to a Facebook gambling ad posted in January 2023 which featured an image of popular FC Barcelona players Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. The text above the image reads, “Who is the most underrated player at the club you support?” while a BetVictor logo and text were prominently displayed at the ad’s top corner.

In response, the regulator challenged the ad’s display of famous individuals who likely held strong appeal to under-18s. This group of individuals is legally not allowed to place bets hence BetVictor was accused of breaching the advertising code.

The online gaming firm contested the ASA’s decision, claiming that it set up procedures to ensure its advertising did not run afoul of the codes. BetVictor also pointed out that, according to CAP guidance, “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”.

The company went on to claim that Alba and Busquets were not popular enough to be regarded as “high risk”. Rather, they were placed in the “medium risk” category.

BetVictor further asserted that neither player had a top-dollar personal sponsorship agreement with any popular UK brand or a strong social media profile featuring audiences below 18.

To support their claim that the players were not well known in the UK, BetVictor presented evidence in the form of Search Engine Optimisation data. This showed that neither Jordi nor Sergio had the same amount of Google searches in the UK as other “top flight” athletes. They also had a lower figure than retired soccer players in the UK.

According to the company, the Facebook ad was designed to spark conversation among people and provided no logos besides theirs; neither were there links, comments, or calls to action that led to betting platforms. The data for the ad, as provided by Facebook, showed that everyone that viewed the post was at least 25 years of age.

Despite BetVictor’s comments, the ASA stated on Wednesday that it upheld its ruling that the Facebook ad was in violation of CAP guidelines.

A statement by the ASA read, “CAP guidance stated that, of relevance to gambling, football was the most prominent subject of strong appeal to under-18s. It was an activity in which a very significant proportion of under-18s participated directly on a frequent basis and had a general interest in following professional teams and players across a variety of media.”

The ASA further opined that communication of that nature should not be linked to youth culture nor have personalities that appeal to individuals younger than 18. The advertising regulator also pointed out that soccer was widely enjoyed by people under 18, who tended to develop an interest in numerous professional football squads and players.

This, according to the ASA, made football players at the elite level significantly appealing to young people. The regulator dubbed the ad “irresponsible” and a code violation.

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