Ladbrokes Broke The Rules

Published on: January 9, 2009 

Ladbrokes, one of the most well known online casino and poker rooms, has managed to get themselves into a bit of a bind.  The gaming company has breached the advertising standards that have been put into place by releasing television commercials for its online casino that show ‘daredevil characters’ leaping into shark infested water or to their deaths, says the advertising regulator on Wednesday, January 7, 2009.  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint from a viewer stating that the advertisements for the online casino were ‘portraying gambling in a context of toughness, and linked it to excessive risk taking and reckless behavior.’

A spokesperson for Ladbrokes stated that the advertisements were supposed to be considered light hearted and humorous.  They intended to appeal the decision of the Advertising Standards Authority.  The first commercial that was released by Ladbrokes shows a diver jumping into shark infested water with raw meat all over their wet suit which is designed to look like a seal.  At the end of the commercial, another character comments that “All we could bury was his flipper.”  The second commercial shows a sky diver jumping out of an airplane with only an empty potato chip packet as a parachute.  Both clips finish with the words, ‘If only he’d seen it would have quenched his thrill buds.’

Ladbrokes feels that the ruling was an incorrect application of the advertising standards rules.  They also feel that they are being barred from using humour in their gambling ads.  John O’Reilly, the 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.

If Ladbrokes wins the appeal the commercials will continue complete with their humorous tone no matter who they may wind up offending.  Ladbrokes is one of the most popular online providers of casinos and poker rooms.  They are also one of the oldest, having been established in 1886.  They currently employ 14,000 people in five different European countries.  In addition to their online gaming operation they also run 2,600 betting shops in Britain, Ireland, and Belgium.

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