Paddy Power ad ban for gambling taking priority

·2 min read

An advert for betting firm Paddy Power has been banned for encouraging repetitive gambling, by showing it taking priority over family.

The advert features a woman asking her boyfriend "Do you think I'll end up looking like my mum?".

He, distracted by a gambling app, replies "I hope so".

The company said it accepted the decision from the advertising regulator and would consider the guidance it had been given.

Shown in March 2022 across TV and online, the ad showed the man sitting in a living room next to his girlfriend, whilst using his phone to play one of the firm's betting games.

His girlfriend's mother brings the couple a drink, after which his girlfriend poses the question to which the man responds without thinking, while continuing to stare at his phone. Following his girlfriend's incredulous stare, the man returns, embarrassed, to playing the betting game.

The advert's narrator then states: "So no matter how badly you stuff it up, you'll always get another chance with Paddy Power games".

The advertisement received three complaints from viewers, all of which were upheld. One complainant said the ad showed the man was so preoccupied with gambling it had led him to make an "inappropriate remark".

The UK's advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad "encouraged repetitive gambling" because it "portrayed gambling as taking priority in life, over family".

A Paddy Power spokesperson told the BBC the firm was "committed to responsible practice and it is always our intention to comply with the Advertising Codes. We accept the decision of the ASA and will consider its broader guidance moving forwards".

Still from Paddy Power ad showing a man sat next to his girlfriend whilst holding his phone in both hands
The man grips his phone while with family

The complainants to the ASA believed that the man was portrayed as letting gambling take priority over his family life and was "socially irresponsible".

Paddy Power defended itself to the ASA, arguing that the ad implied a "commitment to family life", since it portrayed the scene of a traditional family setting, with the man joining his girlfriend's parents for Sunday lunch, and was intended to be "light-hearted".

The ASA told Paddy Power that its adverts could not portray gambling as "taking priority in life, or portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible", and that the adverts could no longer be shown in their current form.

Clearcast, the company responsible for clearing adverts before broadcast in the UK, said that it accepted the ASA ruling, and will take the guidance in to consideration when clearing future gambling ads.

The ruling follows a wider campaign by the ASA to clamp down on socially irresponsible advertising and apply tougher rules for gambling advertising in particular.