ASA to order LeoVegas to withdraw a radio ad for its BetUK

ASA to order LeoVegas to withdraw a radio ad for its BetUK

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of the UK has directed LeoVegas to remove a radio advertisement promoting its BetUK sportsbook, deeming it “irresponsible” and potentially attractive to children.

Aired in September 2023, the advertisement showcased retired footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa endorsing BetUK as its brand ambassador. Akinfenwa highlighted various safer gambling measures provided by BetUK, such as deposit limits, reality checks, and time-outs, while urging players to gamble responsibly.

Despite featuring only one complaint, the ASA scrutinized the ad’s potential appeal to individuals under the age of 18. It questioned whether the presence of Akinfenwa, a figure with significant influence, could breach the BCAP Code by attracting minors to the advertisement.

LeoVegas and BetUK responded to the complaint by asserting that the advert did not appeal to individuals under 18.

They pointed out that Adebayo Akinfenwa, aged 41 and a retired footballer, is unlikely to be popular among children, especially as he spent his career in lower leagues rather than the Premier League. BetUK also emphasized Akinfenwa’s media profile and clothing range, neither of which suggests strong appeal to children. Regarding Akinfenwa’s social media presence, a small percentage of his followers on Instagram and Snapchat are under 18, but demographics for other platforms are unavailable. Additionally, BetUK noted that the ad lacked childish content and aired during a radio show with an adult audience, a stance supported by Radiocentre, the commercial body for UK radio stations.

Despite LeoVegas and BetUK’s response, the ASA upheld the complaint, citing the BCAP Code which prohibits gambling advertisements from being appealing to children or young individuals.

The ASA acknowledged that Akinfenwa’s status as a lower-league player categorized him as “low risk” according to BCAP guidance. However, the ASA noted that players like Akinfenwa could still pose a “moderate risk” due to their social and media presence, potentially appealing to children.

In further explanation of its decision, the ASA highlighted Akinfenwa’s broader profile, including his popularity for his physical strength, which made him a prominent figure in the FIFA video game series played by children. The ASA stated, “We considered the portrayal of him in the media and how he marketed himself would have elevated him to a cult hero status in the game.” Consequently, the ASA categorized Akinfenwa as a “moderate risk” due to his media profile and unusual level of fame for a former lower-league player.