The UK’s advertising watchdog has ruled that betting companies are guilty of ‘irresponsibly targeting’ children online.
During a three-month investigation, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) identified 70 breaches of advertising rules by four gambling operators on entertainment websites for children.
The ASA has warned the offending companies to “amend their practices” and said it will continue to monitor their Advertising Code compliance over the next twelve months.
Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “The ASA is using technology to proactively monitor online ads to help build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children.
“We expect advertisers and the parties they contract with to use the sophisticated tools available to them to target their ads responsibly.”
Although the watchdog has refused to name the companies involved on this occasion, it says it will “report publically” on any future rule-breaking and take action against repeat offenders.
Last year the ASA found that five gambling firms had been illegally targeting children as young as six with online betting ads.
In June, a group of 50 MPs called for a complete ban on gambling advertising to protect the vulnerable, following a year-long inquiry into the UK’s online betting industry.
In its report the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm made more than 30 recommendations, including a ban on all betting advertising, a £2 stake limit on online slot machines and an end to VIP schemes.
Chairwoman Carolyn Harris MP said: “Urgent change is needed to stop this industry riding roughshod over people’s lives.”