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ASA: William Hill Tinder Ad Linked Gambling to Sexual Success

Will Hill Logo

It has been a quiet few months from the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), at least as regards gambling advertisements, but the watchdog body is back with another silly ruling – and, boy, was it worth the wait! This time, the alleged wrongdoer was bookmaker William Hill, which, in a ruling dated May 15, was found to have violated the advertising guidelines by supposedly linking gambling to sexual success!

What Did William Hill Do?

On March 11, 2019, William Hill ran the following ad on the dating app Tinder:

Ad by William Hill on Tinder

This message referenced the well-known concept of the “friend zone”: the metaphorical location to which rejected romantic partners are relegated in the affections of their would-be paramours. By claiming that its services would help customers avoid the friend zone, the company was promising a correlation between gambling and sexual success. At least, this is what a single complainant alleged.

This is against the CAP Code 16.3.8:

Marketing communications must not: link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.

Arguments

Two People Arguing

William Hill argued that people who signed up for an account with the firm were entering into a relationship with it, and the advertisement played upon the nature of the Tinder site by implying that such a relationship would not end up in the friend zone. The company stated that the intent behind the message was not to suggest that betting at Will Hill would lead to positive sexual outcomes.

Tinder also revealed that it had “reviewed the ad to ensure its content was not socially irresponsible, offensive or targeting minors.” The ad was not flagged as inappropriate and was therefore broadcast to users. Apart from the single complaint that triggered the ASA investigation, Tinder said that there had been no other complaints.

The ASA didn't buy it. This bureaucratic agency found that the ad “suggested that those who gambled would be more likely to develop a friendship into a sexual relationship and therefore linked gambling with sexual success.” The ASA determined that the ad was in violation of the advertising code and should not be broadcast again in the same form.

Our Thoughts

The Thinker Sculpture

We here at ProfessionalRakeback are of the steadfast opinion that achievements in the realm of real money gaming quite obviously translate into massive sexual attractiveness, vigor, stamina, and skill. (Any of our female readers who feel similarly are welcome to contact us for an, um, intimate “consultation.”) However, we're perfectly aware of the erroneous misconception among the public at large that gamblers tend to be overweight, financially challenged losers.

Therefore, we find it astounding that anyone could be fooled by William Hill's ad into thinking that being able to place free bets on its online platform would correspond to success in the dating world. Given the fact that the ad appeared on Tinder, an app marketed specifically for the purposes of hooking up, we believe it's perfectly understandable that WH would wish to tailor its advertising to the theme of the medium without necessarily harboring any deceptive intent.

If there actually are Tinder users who are duped into thinking that the winnings from a few £10 free bets will significantly alter their dating prospects, then we think there's a bigger problem here. Such individuals ought to be banned from Tinder so as to reduce their probability of mating and thus passing their dumbassery on to the next generation.

ASA Turning Molehills Into Mountains

Surprised Smiley Face

This isn't the first time we've encountered decisions from the ASA that have left us bewildered. The organization appears to take a perverse delight in interpreting the rules in an overly broad way so as to crack down on what we feel are fairly innocuous communications.

Companies Targeted by the ASASome of the Gaming Firms That Have Attracted Unwanted Attention From the ASA

In April 2018, the ASA found fault with a PokerStars ad. This television spot attempted to make a lighthearted connection between bluffing in real life and at the poker tables. However, the ASA decreed that this would lead unwary customers to think that they could win at poker solely by bluffing without possessing any experience in the game.

The next month, the ASA took m88.com Casino to task for showing fairy tale-inspired graphics on its website, which was held to be a form of marketing gambling to children. The ASA reached this conclusion despite the fact that the games being advertised were indeed based upon fairy tales. Moreover, these images appeared in the free-to-play section of the website, meaning that no actual money was involved.

In September 2018, an ad from Gala Spins caught the attention of the ASA. This ad promoted the “Britain's Got Talent” Slingo game, based upon the hit TV show of the same name. Because the word “talent” was mentioned, the powers that be declared that the firm was tricking consumers into believing that a person's own talent was instrumental in winning at the game.

Overall U.K. Regulatory Landscape

Blue Regulations Page

The Advertising Standards Authority isn't the only group whose edicts gambling enterprises in the United Kingdom must comply with. There's also the U.K. Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) to contend with. Unlike the ASA, which generally just orders companies to stop doing whatever it thinks is against the rules, the UKGC and CMA possess stronger punitive powers.

For instance, the CMA in July 2018 ordered a halt to the $4.7 billion merger between The Stars Group and Sky Betting & Gaming although the deal was later able to proceed. And the UKGC has made a reputation for itself by doling out fines that sometimes reach into the seven figures, like the £2 million penalty it handed out to 32Red and the £2.2 million levied against Paddy Power Betfair.

The costs of remaining on the good side of these oversight bodies are non-trivial and may be a reason for some real money gaming entities opting to cease doing business in the United Kingdom. The rules are always getting tougher too as with the recently published guidelines for identity verification at gambling sites.

William Hill Ran an Ad on Tinder That Got It Into Trouble

Offshore Providers Beckon

Globe of the World

Of course, one way of reducing compliance burdens to nearly nothing is by foregoing a license from the UKGC in the first place. Though the legal authorities frown upon such a course, there's really little they can do because corporations can simply house their headquarters overseas in jurisdictions that U.K. officials can't touch. There are a number of online gaming concerns that do indeed service British customers without possessing all the paperwork theoretically demanded by the government.

One of the most prominent among them is Sportsbetting.ag. It boasts a poker room, casino, sportsbook, and several other betting products. You can get a 100% up to $1,000 bonus on your first deposit to play card games. Check out our accurate review of Sportsbetting Poker for additional information and signup instructions.