An ad for betting firm William Hill seen on the dating app Tinder has been banned for linking gambling to sexual success.
The March 11 message read: “Stuck in the friend zone? You won’t be for much longer if you use this Cheltenham free bet offer,” followed by a link to download the William Hill app.
A reader complained that the ad broke advertising rules by linking gambling to sexual success.
The firm said customers who signed up would “enter into a relationship with William Hill”, and the ad was supposed to relate this to Tinder’s business.
However, William Hill said upon reflection it agreed that the ad could be interpreted differently, although it was not their intention to link gambling to sexual success.
Tinder said they reviewed the ad to ensure its content was not socially irresponsible, offensive or targeting minors, and published it on their platform after it passed their screening.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged that William Hill had removed the ad, but said the ad’s text suggested that those who gambled would be more likely to develop a friendship into a sexual relationship, and therefore linked gambling with sexual success.
It ruled that the ad must not appear again in the current form.
William Hill said: “We take on board what the ASA have said about this particular advert and have removed it from circulation.”
The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, who has campaigned for tighter regulation of gambling advertising, said: “I have been left speechless by this desperate type of advertising.
“The gambling industry’s approach to self-regulation appears farcical as more of these adverts are exposed. I fear some betting firms are now operating under a ‘don’t get caught’ mentality.
“The ASA’s robust action should be a wake-up call to the industry.”