The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a promotion from William Hill which was found to link gambling to sexual success.

A paid-for message from William Hill was seen on dating app Tinder in March, with one complainant challenging whether the ad breached the CAP Code by linking gambling to sexual success.

The ad stated: "Stuck in the friend zone? You won't be for much longer if you use this Cheltenham free bet offer. Join William Hill with code W40 and bet £10 on any Cheltenham race to get 4 X £10 free bets. T&Cs apply.” This was followed by a link to download the William Hill app.

In its defence, William Hill said that customers were known to be savvy and “shop around” for the best odds and offers, using the William Hill website and odds as a comparison to choose the best deal.

The operator said that the promotion was supposed to relate the offer to the nature of the business they were advertising on. Upon reflection, the company agreed that the ad had the potential to be interpreted differently, although it was not their intention to link gambling to sexual success. William Hill has since removed the ad and is in the process of conducting a full review of existing content on the platform.

Tinder said that it initially reviewed the ad to ensure its content was not socially irresponsible, offensive or targeting minors, and having passed its initial screening, the promotion was published on the Tinder platform.

Acknowledging that William Hill had removed the ad, the ASA said that the text used in the promotion suggested that those who gambled would be more likely to develop a friendship into a sexual relationship, and therefore linked gambling with sexual success.

As a result the ASA concluded that the ad breached CAP Code (edition 12) rules 16.3 and 16.3.8 (Gambling).

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