Ads for fairytale games kicked out of the woods
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that adverts for games featuring fairytale themed images are to be banned.
Cartoon graphics have long been a concern of anti-gambling campaigners due to their particular appeal to children and those below the legal gambling age.
This is the argument made by The Campaign for Fairer Gambling – who complained that these adverts are likely to appeal to children.
Given that the ASA have strict guidelines against associating anything in online gambling with youth culture, online casinos face crackdowns and possible closures for their fairytale content.
At the centre of this storm is m88.com, who ran games such as Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood, Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel and Fairies Forest in January.
Based on classic tales popularised by the Grimm Brothers, these stories are usually bedtime reading for young children.
Responding to these complaints, ProgressPlay, the company behind m88.com, made the games accessible to users only after they already logged into their account. In related cases, six games on fun88.co.uk and letou.co.uk have also been banned.
As the ASA stated regarding the use of fairlytale imagery in online casino games:
We considered that fairies were highly popular with young children, particularly young girls. Furthermore, we noted that the wolf was heavily stylised with exaggerated facial features and included a long muzzle, big eyes and a prominent nose. We considered that the physical appearance of the wolf resembled similar characters from films and TV programmes aimed at under-18s, particularly children.– Statement, ASA.
Underage gambling is still a huge problem.
Children gambling is still a real problem, with an estimated 450,000 children placing bets in England and Wales every week. Of that number, 25,000 are considered to be problem gamblers. It looks like removing fairytale imagery from games is only the first step in stopping a potential public health crisis.
This is still reflected in the games available on these sites. Fun88.co.uk, for example, still has slots relating to mermaids and princesses, as well as a Snow White-referencing game named Mirror Magic. With obvious connotations to themes popularised in Disney movies, these games seem targeted towards young girls in particular. Additionally, Letuo.co.uk has similar adverts, as well as games named Ragnarok: Fall of Odin and Spell of Odin, which, in referencing a character from Marvel films, is likely to entice bets from young boys.
Additionally, politicians, from the Labour party in particular, have been lobbying against adverts on social media, television and football shirts, as they prove a major factor in getting young people addicted to gambling. With the numbers as high as they are, however, it seems more needs to be done to tackle this silent epidemic. Banning fairytale content from online games is a good start, but stricter measures are needed.