ASB considers William Hill advertisement for breach of the AANA Wagering Code

September 1, 2016 Published by

Wagering and sportsbetting is a large industry in Australia; however, irresponsible gambling can have damaging effects. As such, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (‘AANA’) has implemented the AANA Wagering Advertising & Marketing Communication Code (‘the Code’) to ensure that advertisers and marketers uphold a “high sense of social responsibility” when advertising wagering products and services in Australia. The Code was implemented on 1 July 2016 to add to the existing AANA codes, which includes the overarching Code of Ethics. pexels-photo-158976More recently, the Advertising Standards Board (‘ASB’) considered its first complaint under the Code with a William Hill television advertisement in question.

The Code

The Code applies to all licensed operators of wagering products or services, and covers advertising and marketing communications for betting on horse races, harness races, greyhound races or sporting events; as well as betting on a series of races or events. It also covers betting on fantasy sport teams, odds compilation, and tipping services. However, it does not include gaming, such as casino or electronic gaming machines, keno, lotto and lottery products, or trade promotions.

Similarly to other AANA codes, the Code applies equally to print, digital, television and other forms of media. The Code outlines 9 restrictive provisions including prohibiting advertising or marketing communications that are targeted to minors or feature minors, and communications that link wagering with alcohol. Among these provisions includes Section 2.5 of the Code which provides that communications “must not state or imply a promise of winning”; this was the key issue in the ASB’s determination of the William Hill complaint.

ASB Determination

The television advertisement promoted William Hill’s special ‘money back offer’ and featured visuals of racing and sporting events. The complaint was that the advertisement conveyed the message that you cannot lose from gambling “giving vulnerable individuals the idea that when you bet you pretty much can’t lose”. The ASB identified that this may be in breach of Section 2.5.

In its determination, the Board noted that the advertisement does not claim that you will win, but rather, that you will get money back if you lose. Furthermore, the Board considered that the offer to get your money back does not amount to ‘winning’ as there are conditions attached to the offer. The Board also considered the advertisement served a purpose to compare the difference between other ‘special offers’ and William Hill’s special ‘money back offer’ which refunds cash rather than betting credits.

Ultimately, the Board determined that the advertisement did not state or imply a promise of winning and thus did not breach Section 2.5 of the Code. As such, the complaint was dismissed.

Take Outs

Agencies and marketers that are looking to promote wagering products or services in Australia need to be mindful of the Code given that the ASB has the power to seek to remove, or modify, anything that is not in accordance with the specified requirements.

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