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LeoVegas Ordered to Withdraw Akinfenwa Radio Advert

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The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has instructed LeoVegas to pull a radio advertisement for its BetUK sportsbook, deeming it “irresponsible” and potentially appealing to children.

The advert, which was broadcast in September 2023, featured the retired footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa discussing his role as a brand ambassador for BetUK. In it, he highlighted several safer gambling tools, such as deposit limits and reality checks, and encouraged responsible gambling.

Ad May Appeal to Under-18s

A complaint was submitted to the ASA concerning the ad’s appeal to those under 18. It argued that Akinfenwa was likely to appeal to children and therefore the advert broke the BCAP Code.

LeoVegas and BetUK contested the complaint. They argued that at the age of 41 and retired, Akinfenwa would be unlikely to attract a young audience. They highlighted how his career was primarily in lower leagues and that his clothing line did not contain any products for children.

They also presented social media data, showing that just 8% of his Instagram followers are under 18 and 18% of his Snapchat followers. Age data was not available for Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

Complaint Upheld by ASA

Despite their defense, which also pointed out that the advert did not feature child-related content and that it was played during a radio show designed for adults, the ASA upheld the complaint. The authority referenced guidelines stating gambling ads must not strongly appeal to children or include individuals likely to attract an underage audience.

They acknowledged Akinfenwa's lower-league status as “low risk” but raised concerns about his social media presence and broader appeal, citing his fame in the FIFA video game series and his cult hero status.

With at least 157,000 of his social media followers being under 18, the ASA found Akinfenwa's appeal significant, placing him in a “high risk” category for appealing to children. As a result, the ASA ruled the advert violated gambling advertising rules, banning its future broadcast in its current form and advising LeoVegas and BetUK against using individuals appealing to under-18s in future ads.

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