The UK’s advertising regulator (ASA) has banned a Sky Bet advert after it received two complaints that it was ‘socially irresponsible’, and implied that punters could increase their chances of winning by having good sporting knowledge.
The ‘request a bet’ advert featured a well-known Sky Sports presented called Jeff Stelling, and it suggested that your chances of winning a bet were enhanced if you had a good knowledge of sports.
The ad – first shown back in 2018 – was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over its misleading claims, and its targeting of (potentially) vulnerable persons.
Request a Bet is a popular mechanism brought in my Sky, that allows punters to customise their own bet. It’s primarily used to get large odds, that can result in big payouts – on combined markets. Stelling, who featured in the ad, said in the advert: “Forget ‘anything can happen,’ in sport anything does happen. But could it be better? With Request a Bet it could. Spark your sports brain and roll all the possibilities into one bet.
“Three red cards, seven corners, five goals: let’s price that up. Or browse hundreds of ‘Request a Bets’ on our app. The possibilities are humongous. How big is your sports noggin? Sky Bet, Britain’s most popular online bookmaker. When the fun stops, stop.”
In the background, behind Stelling, a screen showed various sporting odds and statistics.
Why Did Viewers Complain?
Two viewers complained to the ASA about the ad, saying that it implied that “those with a good knowledge of sports were likely to experience gambling success.” The complaints were submitted on the basis that the complainants believed the ad was socially irresponsible.
Despite the ad airing last year, the ASA only announced its ruling (and subsequent ban) of the ad on March 13th, 2019. The ASA said that “viewers would recognize Stelling as an expert on sports and that references such as “spark your brain” suggested a “strong emphasis on the role of sports knowledge in determining betting success.”
It went on to say: “We considered that the ad gave an erroneous perception of the extent of a gambler’s control over betting success, by placing undue emphasis on the role of sports knowledge.
“We considered that this gave consumers an unrealistic and exaggerated perception of the level of control they would have over the outcome of a bet, and that could lead to irresponsible gambling behavior. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.”
The ASA has told Sky Bet to ensure in future that any ads it puts out do not encourage irresponsible gambling, “for example by creating an unrealistic perception of the level of control consumers would have over betting success.”
This isn’t the first time that Sky Bet has found themselves on the wrong side of rulings by the ASA, and in June 2013, the ASA ruled against the betting operator for two TV ads which they say ‘mislead customers’ over how much they needed to bet in order to quality for a £5 free bet.
Ian Proctor – the current CEO of Sky Bet – told media that more could be done when it came to responsible gambling.
He said: “Responsible gambling is important to me. It’s an emotive topic at the moment… We (the industry as a whole) have not done ourselves any favors.”
After numerous complaints surrounding their ads, it’s likely we’ll see Sky Bet begin to self-regulate their advertising campaigns – and for good measure, it seems. Whether we’ll see the ASA and potentially the UK Gambling Commission hand out fines in the future remains to be seen – but for now, at least, it’s clear that Sky Bet need to do better.