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ASA Rules in Favor of William Hill and Retired Footballers

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) came down on William Hill’s side in a recent complaint involving the use of former players as spokesmen for gambling operators. With this latest ruling, the ASA clarified the standards for operators using retired footballers and will likely open a floodgate of colorful spokesmen from the pool of players known more for punditry than football.

What makes this recent ASA case against William Hill interesting is the source of the original complaint. Rather than coming from a pearl-clutching anti-gambling zealot, this complaint was generated by artificial intelligence. The ASA uses AI to monitor social media streams, such as William Hill’s, to comb for offending content. In this case, AI honed in on a social media post featuring retired footballer Robbie Savage discussing Premier League relegations.

Had Savage been an active player, the case against William Hill would have been a no-brainer (and the tweet would likely have never been posted in the first place). But while there are pretty strict rules about using players who could influence young people as spokesmen, there is an exception for retired players known more for punditry than playing. Savage, who has a long sports broadcasting career more than qualifies for this exception. Previous rulings involving former footballers Peter Crouch and Micah Richards established that precedent long ago.

Further review by the ASA’s human employees quickly resolved the matter and cleared William Hill of any wrongdoing and reaffirmed the precedent in a published ruling. The only lingering question here is why William Hill had to use its own resources to defend itself against an extremely frivolous complaint that was launched by AI?