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Sportsbet ad under fire in Australia

9th May 2023 10:25 am GMT

Flutter Entertainment’s Sportsbet brand has been rapped by Australia’s Ad Standards Community Panel.

The self-regulatory authority of the Australian advertising industry found that a recent television ad for Sportsbet breached provisions of the AANA Wagering Advertising and Marketing Communication Code by implying a link between wagering and sexual success.

The ad opens with a man on a couch looking at his phone. He is shown to win his bet and the voice-over states: “feels like you’ve finally made it”. The scene swirls and transitions to him sitting at an awards show ceremony wearing a tuxedo. The award being presented is ‘Most Outstanding Same Game Multi’, and the man is shown to win. The crowd cheers and applauds and he gives an acceptance speech thanking his anytime goal scorers.

This prompted complaints that the ad glorified gambling, depicted unrealistic odds, and encouraged risky behaviour.

Sportsbet rejected these claims, arguing that the ad contained no statement or implication of a promise of winning, or any link between wagering and sexual success. 

“The Advertisement contains no reference or element that links wagering with sexual success or enhanced attractiveness. Rather, […] it depicts a punter placing a successful SGM with Sportsbet and dreaming-up a parallel between the emotions associated with that activity and those he might experience winning an award at a ceremony,” said the company.

“Further, the absurd and unrealistic nature of the Advertisement is exaggerated by the punter being inappropriately dressed at the ceremony in tuxedo shirt/jacket with football shorts and thongs. In that context, the Advertisement is clearly a fictional analogy (underscored by the dream element) and promotes Sportsbet’s SGM product through a humorous and harmless parody of the well-known Oscars ceremony setting.”

Sportsbet added that “any suggestion that the admiration shown towards the successful punter in the advertisement is excessive or implies that he is more sexually attractive is baseless”.

The Ad Standards Panel accepted that the ad does not state or imply a promise of winning but ruled that it does show a transformation in the man’s appearance that suggests his attractiveness has been enhanced as a result of his win.

The Panel noted that the man is shown to go from sitting alone on a couch in casual clothing to being dressed in a tuxedo with a woman next to him celebrating his success, implying a link between wagering and enhanced attractiveness.

Sportsbet has rejected the Panel’s determination and is seeking an independent review.

“Sportsbet takes its obligations under the Code very seriously, and is deeply concerned by the Community Panel's determination,” the company said in response to the ruling. “Accordingly, Sportsbet intends to request that an independent review of the Community Panel's determination be conducted.

“Sportsbet respects the Community Panel’s determination and has suspended distribution of the Advertisement via television until the outcome of the independent review process is known.”

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