Regulators at the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are doing a bit of a flip flop on a recent Sky Bet sports betting ad featuring sports announcer Jeff Stelling. It’s an unusual situation that draws into stark relief the absurdity of the ASA’s decision making process, especially when it comes to their Javert-like pursuit of gambling operators.
The advertisement in question featured Stelling touting the features of Sky Bet’s Request a Bet product, which allows players to build their own multi-faceted wagers. In describing the product, Stelling says, “Forget ‘anything can happen’, in sport anything does happen. But could it be better? With Request a Bet it could. Spark your sports brain and roll all the possibilities into one bet. Three red cards, seven corners, five goals: lets price that up. Or browse hundreds of request a bets on our app. The possibilities are humongous. How big is your sports noggin? Sky Bet, Britain’s most popular online bookmaker. When the fun stops, stop.”
While that statement seems pretty innocuous to most people, two (yes, two!) complained to the ASA that the ad suggested that increased sports knowledge increases your chances of winning wagers. Earlier this year, the ASA agreed and pulled the ad.
Sky Bet appealed the ruling, arguing that the ad was, “in line with similar sports betting treatments, where the focus was on the excitement and possibilities within sports for fans, rather than on the outcome of the bet or on the possibilities of winning,” according to a report on SBC News.
The ASA agreed with Sky Bet saying, “The phrase “in sport anything does happen” explicitly recognised the uncertain nature of sporting outcomes. We therefore concluded that the ad was not socially irresponsible and did not breach the Code.”
While the ASA should be lauded for recognizing the folly of its original decision, the fact that the decision was made in the first place speaks to the absurdity of its decision making process a whole.