This Ruling forms part of a wider piece of work banning gambling ads which, under strengthened rules, are prohibited from being likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.

Ad description

A radio ad for BetUK, heard on 27 September 2023, featured retired footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa stating that he was a brand ambassador for the company. He went on to say, “You can now find a range of tools on the BetUK website. You can set deposit limits, schedule reality checks and set timeouts to help you stay in control. Always gamble responsibly at BetUK.”


The complainant challenged whether the ad featured an individual who was likely to be of strong appeal to those under 18 years of age, and therefore breached the Code.


LeoVegas Gaming plc t/a BetUK said they had given full consideration to the Joint CAP and BCAP Advertising Guidance “Gambling and lotteries advertising: protecting under-18s” (the B/CAP guidance) when assessing Mr Akinfenwa. They believed that he did not appeal strongly to under-18s.

They believed that, because Mr Akinfenwa was 41 years old and a former footballer who had retired in May 2022, he was unlikely to be popular with under-18s. They explained that during his professional football career, he was not considered a ‘star’ player and he never played for a club in the Premier League. He spent the majority of his career playing for League One and League Two clubs, with only a brief amount of time spent playing in the Championship. Although he had played a small number of matches since retiring, those were charity matches and games which involved non-league clubs. Because his whole career was spent outside of the Premier League, BetUK considered his appeal to under-18s, as defined by the B/CAP guidance, was “low risk”.

Outside of his career as a footballer, BetUK said Mr Akinfenwa’s general media profile did not indicate he was likely to be of strong appeal to children. They said he had a clothing range (BeastModeOn), which they claimed had broad appeal and was marketed at people aged 16-66. They said he did not advertise any child-related products.

BetUK said Mr Akinfenwa had active accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, TikTok and Snapchat. They said he posted content on a wide range of sports, including American football and boxing, as well as football. They said that on Instagram he had 116,200 followers who were under 18, which was 8% of his total followers on that platform, and on Snapchat 41,080 followers who were under 18, which was 13% of his total followers on that platform. They said age demographics were unavailable for Facebook, Twitter/X and TikTok.

BetUK also said the ad, which promoted ways to gamble responsibly, did not feature any content of a childish tone and was played during a radio show which was likely to have an adult audience.

Radiocentre agreed with the response BetUK provided and did not have any further comments to add.



From 1 October 2022, the BCAP Code stated that marketing communications for gambling products must not be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. They must not include a person or character whose example was likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who had strong appeal to those aged under 18.

The ASA expected advertisers to provide evidence that they had identified what persons or characters were generally known for outside the context of an ad, and had used appropriate sources of data and information to assess their likely level of appeal to under-18s, including by assessing the personal profile and following of the person or character (including social media follower demographics). We considered anyone with a significant under-18 following on social media was of “high risk” of appealing strongly to children.

We acknowledged that Mr Akinfenwa spent the majority of his football career playing for clubs in Leagues One and Two, which were the third and fourth tiers of English football respectively. He spent one season playing in the Championship, which was the second tier, for Wycombe Wanderers, but he had never played for a club in the Premier League. He had also never represented his country in international football and had not played for any prominent clubs abroad.

The B/CAP guidance classed footballers at lower league and non-league clubs as "low risk", but also stated footballers from outside the topflight could be of "moderate risk" on the basis of their social and other media profiles. We considered that categorisation also applied to retired footballers who had never played in the Premier League. We therefore assessed the appeal that Mr Akinfenwa was likely to have to under-18s on the basis of his social and media profiles.

We understood that despite Mr Akinfenwa playing in the lower leagues of English football, he became well-known amongst football fans due to his impressive physical strength. That led to him being ranked as the strongest player in various editions of the FIFA videogame series and adopting the nickname The Beast. We noted that in 2022, his career was documented in an Amazon Prime documentary, titled Beast Mode On, which explored how he gained a following and a reputation for being an extremely strong football player. While we acknowledged BetUK’s view that Mr Akinfenwa’s clothing range BeastModeOn, had broad appeal and was not targeted at children, we considered the manner in which he was portrayed in the media and by which he had marketed himself would have led some football fans to view him as a cult hero in the game. We therefore considered that his media profile, alongside our view that he was unusually well known for a former lower league footballer, would have placed him in the “moderate risk” category of the guidance.

In terms of his social media presence, we understood that Mr Akinfenwa had active public personal accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat. We noted that, through his YouTube channel, he often engaged with and published videos featuring well-known football related personalities. Although figures for under-18 followers on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter/X and YouTube were not available, of his 1.3 million Instagram followers, 8% were registered as under 18, which amounted to around 116,000 users. Of his 312,000 Snapchat followers, 13% were registered as under 18 years, which amounted to around 41,000 followers. Therefore, across his active social media accounts he had at least 157,000 followers who were under 18 years. The BCAP guidance stated, “… a generally high social media following that attracts a significant absolute number of under-18 followers, as determined through quantitative or qualitative analysis, is likely to be considered an indicator of 'strong' appeal”. We considered that over 157,000 followers aged under 18 years, with the true total figure likely higher due to the absence of data for the other social media platforms, was a significant number in absolute terms. Although his career as a lower league footballer and his media profile in isolation would have placed him in the “moderate risk” category, we considered that because he had such large numbers of social media followers who were under 18 years due to his career and profile, Mr Akinfenwa would be placed in the “high risk” category and was likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.

For that reason, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code.The ad breached BCAP Code (Edition 12) rules 17.4 and 17.4.5 (Gambling).


The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told LeoVegas Gaming plc t/a BetUK not to include a person or character who had strong appeal to those under 18 years of age in their advertising in future.


17.4.5     17.4    

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