Monopoly is one of the most popular games around the world, and it’s also made its way to the online casino world over the years, too. Yet, nobody really expected it to be at the centre of underage gambling rows. However, that is the dilemma that has fallen it recently.
An advert surrounding an online Monopoly-themed casino game is set to be banned by the UK’s advertising regulator due to the fact that the cartoon mascot man, known as Rich Uncle Pennybags, could be appealing to children. After the ad appeared on the website for the Mirror Online, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) discovered that it breached the advertising code. This dictates that ads for gambling sites should not be designed to appeal to youths.
It’s not the first ad within the gambling industry that has been targeted due to concerns over them appealing to minors. Bans have been invoked on several advertisements in recent years after those same concerns were raised, from television commercials through to sponsorship or football shirts and computer games.
As it happens, an audit was released last year by the UK Gambling Commission, which revealed figures stating that the number of problem gamblers between the ages of 11 and 16 had risen in two years. The audit stated that around 55,000 British youngsters were involved in or frequently exposed to gambling.
While no official ruling has been put forward by the ASA regarding the Monopoly-themed advertisement, the company behind it, Entertaining Play, has been warned not to have it appear online again.
People Speak Out Regarding the Ban
Following the decision of the ASA to have the ad pulled, the bishop of St Albans, the Right Rev Dr Alan Smith gave his blessing to such a move. He suggested that the Monopoly-themed advertisement was just “more evidence” displaying that gambling companies are targeting the UK’s youths.
He carried on with his comments by saying that Monopoly is a game that many young people love, so there is no doubt in his mind that the ad featuring Rich Uncle Pennybags would stand out to this demographic. Board games, he said, should be allowed to remain as such, without becoming a part of the gambling world. In fact, he suggested that such games should remain “off-limits to gambling companies”.
On the other hand, Entertaining Play spoke out against the ban, saying that the character mascot of Monopoly wasn’t likely to be attractive to minors. Instead, it said that the character is dressed in adult attire, and because it doesn’t mimic any kind of cartoon seen in children’s programming, this would not be something that children would gear towards. Furthermore, Entertaining Play said that the colours within the advert were not “overly vibrant and did not draw inspiration from youth culture”.
Backing this up, the Mirror Online site informed the ASA that it did not believe the gambling ad would appeal to children, either. Additionally, a label had been included with the ad that stated clearly that gambling was for people of age 18 or above.
Yet, the advertising body spoke up and said that there could be no real way of guaranteeing that anyone under 18 would not be exposed to the game ad. Because of the prominent placement of Rich Uncle Pennybags on the ad, the ASA decided that it did stand a good chance of drawing such people in.
The Hasbro company is responsible for the Monopoly game and, consequently, the creation of the character in question. However, both it and the parent company of Entertaining Play – Gamesys – refused to comment on the situation.