Online casino’s commercial banned for ‘irresponsible’ portrayal of blackjack betting

  • Blackjack strategy element overplayed in advert, watchdog rules
  • Macho demenour of man in high-tension betting scenario also frowned upon in ruling

Online casino 21.co.uk has come under fire from the UK advertising watchdog for supposedly ‘over-emphasizing’ the importance of strategy in blackjack.

The authority ruled that the advert should not appear again in its current form.

In the 30-second advertisement slot, (below), a blackjack-playing man in a tuxedo is seen considering his next betting move.

The voiceover said: “His heart is pounding. His body is still. He shuffles his chips as he thinks. Heart versus head. Emotion versus reason. He makes his move. He makes his own luck.”

What’s wrong with that?

The advert was picked up on by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which suggested in a ruling that the statement “he makes his own luck,” as heard in the voiceover, pits skill above chance in gambling.

The ASA therefore came to the conclusion that 21.co.uk’s advert was “socially irresponsible,” not to mention the fact that it conveyed gambling “in a context of toughness.”

In response to these claims, the website argued that games such as blackjack were strategic in nature, and that the “make your own luck” comment heard in the advert’s voiceover was expressive of the “positive impact of practice on a player’s chance of success.”

Nevertheless, the ASA maintained that 21.co.uk’s advert came across as “irresponsible.”

Furthermore, although the Authority did admit that the man in the advert seemed devoid of “overt attributes of physical toughness,” they still decided to maintain the challenge against the advert’s “irresponsibility,” saying, “he would be viewed by consumers as displaying signs of mental toughness or resilience in the face of taking a major risk by betting all of his chips at once.”

Consumers have their say

A member of the public also expressed concern over the content of the commercial, arguing that the man exhibited signs of “a psychological thrill experienced by gambling addicts,” in that his pupils appeared to dilate as he made his fateful decision.

But the ASA dismissed this claim. They said, “[his] overall demeanour was calm and there was nothing in the ad to suggest that his behaviour was compulsive.”

The ASA’s final decision was to rule that 21.co.uk’s blackjack advert must not appear again in its initial form.

The Authority recommended that the website operator “avoid over-emphasizing the role of strategy in future marketing communications.”

It won’t be the first case of an online casino and betting company falling foul of the authority. Many operators, notably Paddy Power, thrive on controversial communications to get their message out.

READ: Casinopedia’s basic guide to blackjack strategy

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