LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Gaming company Ladbrokes LAD.L breached advertising standards in television commercials for its online casino which showed daredevil characters leaping to their deaths, Britain’s advertising regulator said on Wednesday.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which received one complaint from a member of the public, said the adverts for ladbrokescasino.com “portrayed gambling in a context of toughness, and linked it to excessive risk taking and reckless behaviour”.
Ladbrokes said in a statement the advertisements were light-hearted and humorous, and it would appeal against the decision.
The first commercial showed a diver who attached raw bacon and sausages to his wet suit and leapt into shark-infested water dressed in a seal costume. A character at the end of the clip said: “All we could bury was his flipper”.
The second advertisement showed a sky diver jumping out of a plane using an empty crisp packet as a parachute.
Both clips finished with: “If only he’d seen ladbrokecasino.com it would have quenched his thrill buds.”
Ladbrokes said the ruling was an incorrect application of the advertising standards rules, and effectively barred the use of humour in gambling ads.
John O’Reilly, managing director of Ladbrokes Remote Betting and Gaming, said: “Ladbrokes fully supports the code of practice relating to gambling advertising but this ruling is an example of political correctness going too far”.
“We believe the ads are compliant as they are humorous and show people in fantastical situations to which no one would aspire. Consumers know that you cannot jump from a plane using a 30 gram (1 oz) pack of crisps as a parachute,” he added.
Ladbrokes was established in 1886 and employs 14,000 people in five European countries, with 2,600 betting shops in Britain, Ireland and Belgium.
Editing by Elaine Hardcastle