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UK ad regulator hits out at gambling site for game ads of 'particular appeal to children'

The authority’s rulings deal with a suite of gambling-specific web games advertised on m88’s site that found to be using imagery and characters that would likely appeal to children over adults. 

The UK based Advertising Standards Authority has upheld rulings against the gambling website m88, finding that three of the platform’s ads advertised games in a way that was risked being of “particular appeal to children.”

The ad authority regularly hands down rulings about ads for video games and, though this specific case deals with gambling-specific rules, keeping an eye on ASA decisions is near-essential for developers that don’t want to risk running afoul of the UK-based regulator.

In this case, the authority’s rulings deal with a suite of gambling-specific web games advertised on m88’s website that were accused of using imagery and characters that would likely appeal to children over adults. 

At the time of the complaint, clicking an ad would redirect to a free demo of the app. Though m88 later locked those demos behind a login page and removed any “images of fairies and any other unsuitable character” from the ads, the ASA still found the advertisements in their original form in violation of the CAP Code.

Two of the games, Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood and Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel, were based on children’s fairy tales and would likely appeal to children over adults due to those factors. In the case of Red Riding Hood, the advertisements also featured cartoon characters with exaggerated features, something the ASA again attributed to the interests of children. 

The theme of advertisements for the third game Fairies Forest was also found to disproportionally favor the interests of kids due to the brightly colored forest featured in the ad and the fact that “fairies were highly popular amongst young children, particularly girls.”

Though m88 argued that it believed the ads themselves did not feature any content favoring the attention of children and that it screened the ads ahead of time, each of the three advertisements was found in breach of the CAP Code rules 16.1, 16.3, and 16.3.12 and are barred from appearing in their current form. 

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