ASA issues an advice notice to British-licensed operators on marketing of eSports on social media

The UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice, part of the Advertising Standards Authority, has published an advice notice to British-licensed operators on eSports-related gambling advertising on social media.

The guidance reminds operators that the Code rules that apply to the marketing of gambling on eSports are the same as those governing all other forms of gambling advertising and cover social media in the same way as they do all other non-broadcast media, specifically calling out social media platforms such as Twitch and TikTok.

The use of influencers and brand ambassadors, and the targeting of, and appeal to, under-18s are the focal points of the ASA’s advice note:

  • Influencers who promote offers for gambling on eSports should make it sufficiently clear when a post is a marketing communication. The same applies to ‘brand ambassadors’.
  • An automated warning that a video may only be suitable for audiences over 18, which consumers can simply click ‘continue’ to ignore, is not sufficient to prevent under-18s from viewing a gambling ad.
  • If a social media page, or even a specific post on an account, is specifically targeting a youth audience, no gambling ads should be placed on that page or account.
  • If an ad holds particular appeal to under-18s and there are no, or insufficient mechanisms to target age-restricted products effectively on social media, the advertiser should not use that media for gambling ads, including gambling on eSports.
  • Cartoon or cartoon-like imagery, characters that are recreated as toys, fairy tales and highly animated and stylised exaggerated features are all likely to hold particular appeal to children.
  • Using influencers associated with youth culture is likely to hold particular appeal to children in itself. If an influencer has a strong youth appeal or a significant child audience, they may not be suitable for use in a gambling campaign.
  • If someone is under the age of 25, or appears to be under 25, then they should not play a prominent role in a gambling ad on social media. The same rules will apply to gambling ads that feature eSports players and viewers.
  • Terms and conditions should be made sufficiently clear in gambling ads on social media, and offers of free bets and bonuses on eSports are no different.

The advice notice dovetails CAP’s response to GambleAware’s research on social media marketing for eSports gambling. GambleAware’s research, which was published last month, found that a large number of adverts flagged as potentially targeting young people concerned eSports.