Ad description

A TV ad for Bet MGM, seen on 4 October 2023, featured Chris Rock who said; “We’re Bet MGM and we know how to put on a show” whilst he was shown spinning a ball on his finger. He continued, “That means we don’t just get a boat. We get a gold boat. With a lion. In the Bellagio fountain. And we’re here in the UK to make every game an occasion. Woohoo”, which was heard alongside corresponding imagery. The ad continued with him saying, “With tools to help you play safe. Get ready for the golden era in sports betting” that was accompanied by further imagery of him on the boat. The ad concluded with him as the voiceover saying, “BET MGM IT’S SHOWTIME” accompanied by the same words as on-screen text.


Three complainants challenged whether the ad included 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 Bet MGM said that they carried out an extensive assessment to identify an ambassador for the campaign who was not of appeal to anyone under the age of 18. When assessing Chris Rock’s suitability for the campaign, they carried out a full risk assessment of his profile and relevance, to ensure that he would not be likely to have a strong appeal to children or young people.

They said that Chris Rock was a well-known adult-orientated stand-up comedian and actor who, when appearing visually as himself, was associated with adult themes. They recognised that a minimal proportion of his work was as a voiceover in child-focused animated productions; however, those characters did not visually depict Mr Rock as himself. They also believed that because he was 58 years of age and was not a UK-based personality, he was not likely to be known to under-18s in the UK.

Bet MGM evaluated the voiceover characters that Mr Rock had portrayed in child-focused animation films. They explained that the Madagascar franchise was predominantly released between 2005 and 2008, and that the final film aired in 2014, with his role in that final instalment significantly reduced. They said promotional material for the film that featured Mr Rock was now at least a decade old, and any audience members that would have been impacted by promotion of the movie release would now be over 18 years of age. They also commented on his role as the narrator in the 2020 film The Witches, and considered that, because his character was not a starring role or aspirational to children, he would not be considered appealing to those under 18. They also stated that the film was a dark fantasy horror and had only been released in the UK through certain paid-for streaming platforms. They said that his most recent role in the Paw Patrol film, released in 2023, comprised of 15 words and constituted a 5-second segment in a film with a running time of 95 minutes. Because of that, they believed that his role in the film was insignificant and therefore the risk of his character having strong appeal to under 18s was extremely low.

They also evaluated his appearance in family-orientated films. They said he had appeared in Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2, released in 2010 and 2013 respectively, but explained that the films were not heavily marketed, despite still being available to watch on certain streaming services. They said that the age rating of 12 meant that it was not available on child specific profiles where controls had been set to restrict viewing content of a specific maturity rating. Furthermore, given the amount of time that had passed since the films were released, they considered it was unlikely that an under-18 would decide to watch a film from the franchise. They said the content of the film was predominantly adult-themed and believed his role as a father would not be of strong appeal to children. They also said that his personal appearance had changed since the release of both films and believed that his presentation in the ad was not similar to his character in the Grown Ups franchise. Therefore, they did not believe under-18s watching the film would associate his character with his depiction in the ad and said that there was little risk that he strongly appealed to children because of his involvement in the franchise.

They also said he had appeared more recently in adult-themed films, which included Amsterdam, Spiral, and The One and Only Dick Gregory and believed it was clear that Mr Rock was known as an adult-focused personality. They said he personally acknowledged he was an adult comic, and his performances would not appeal to children; they referred to his 2023 Netflix special, which featured the content warning “drug references, language, sex references and discrimination”.

In terms of the ad’s presentation, they highlighted that Mr Rock appeared as himself and did not reference any of the animated characters he was associated with. The ad featured a power boat, gambling references and an orchestra, that would likely appeal to adults. They also highlighted that the song featured in the ad was sung by the band Public Enemy, who became popular in the mid-1980s, and would therefore likely be popular among adults. They said the ad included clear references to Las Vegas, an adult-focused resort aimed at over-21s. Because of that, they believed the presentation of the ad was unlikely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.In addition, they provided details of Mr Rock’s social media accounts. They said he was active on a small number of social media platforms including X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Whilst he had other verified accounts, such as TikTok, content had never been uploaded to them. Furthermore, they confirmed that he was no longer active on Snapchat or Facebook, with his Facebook account having been last updated in March 2022. As part of their approval process, Bet MGM had reviewed his social media presence. Globally, Mr Rock had over 22 million followers across all his social media platforms, with 11.7 million across the two platforms X and Instagram, on which he was currently active. They said they had regularly reviewed the number of under-18s following those social media accounts and highlighted that 99.68% of his global followers were over the age of 18 in July 2023, and by October that percentage had increased to 99.78%. They explained that the proportion, therefore, of those who were under 18 and followed him across either Instagram or X was less than 1%.

Bet MGM explained that whilst it was possible to view a user’s total followers within a specific country, it was only possible to view an age demographic breakdown of a user’s followers as a percentage of the total number of their followers globally. Because of that restriction, they used a mathematical approximation based on available figures to estimate the number of UK-based under-18 followers. They explained that they used the total number of followers based in the UK, and then applied the percentage of under-18 followers globally to get the estimated number of UK followers under-18 on each social media platform on which he was currently active. On Instagram, of his 113,400 UK followers they estimated that 567 of these would have been under 18. On X, of his 507,6000 based in the UK, they estimated that 508 would have been under 18. They also highlighted that his social media profiles focused on the marketing of his adult comedy shows, political matters and adult humour. Consequently, they believed both the demographic data and the content posted by Mr Rock demonstrated that he was not of strong appeal to under-18s.

As part of their assessment to determine Mr Rock’s suitability for the ad, they also reviewed Mr Rock’s significance in popular culture. They noted the incident involving Mr Rock and Will Smith at the Academy Awards in 2022 and understood that a number of memes involving Mr Rock circulated at that time. However, they said they were static images and would not have featured his voice. They also emphasised that, because the content of such memes was aggressive in nature, they would not have inherently appealed to children. Furthermore, they asserted that the Academy Awards ceremony was not known for its appeal to children. For those reasons, they did not believe that the incident, and the subsequent memes, demonstrated that Mr Rock was likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s in the UK.

Finally, they said that they had contacted the CAP Copy Advice team prior to publishing a poster that formed part of the same campaign as the ad in question, and featured a static image of Mr Rock. They referred us to the advice given by CAP Copy Advice, who did not raise any concerns as to whether Mr Rock would be of strong appeal.

Clearcast said Bet MGM had provided them with a rationale explaining the reasons why Mr Rock was an appropriate spokesperson for their gambling brand, along with global demographics for his social media profile. From that information, they ascertained that his work was predominantly in comedy and that his fan base was mainly over the age of 25. They said data provided by the advertiser showed he had 43,400 under-18 followers globally across his social media accounts, and that only 1,075 of those were based in the UK. They said the Madagascar films had been released predominantly between 2005 and 2008, and that his role in the final film in 2014 had been significantly reduced. They understood his role in the Paw Patrol film was a minimal cameo role of 5 seconds. Therefore, they were satisfied that Mr Rock was unlikely to strongly appeal to those under-18.


Not upheld

The BCAP Code stated that gambling ads 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 a 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.

The ASA understood that Chris Rock was an American stand-up comedian and actor who, across the course of his career, had appeared in a considerable number of films and TV series, as well as several documentaries and music videos. We considered his stand-up comedy was adult-orientated, as content was typically focused on the adult-orientated topics of family, race, romance and US politics. We also understood that the majority of films, in which he appeared visually as himself, also dealt with adult themes. He had recently appeared in three films which were targeted at an older audience and included one film certified as suitable for those aged 18 or over. However, we further noted he had appeared in films rated as 12 and 15, including the franchise Grown Ups’. Nonetheless, because the last film in the series was released over ten years ago, and because we did not consider his role as a stay-at-home father was particularly aspirational or inspirational to under-18s, we did not consider that he would be of strong appeal to under-18s as a result of appearing in them.

We understood, however, that he was well-known for voicing a lead role in the animated film franchise Madagascar; the four films of which were released in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2014. We considered that those films and the character voiced by Mr Rock would have been of strong appeal to under-18s, particularly younger children. We understood that Mr Rock voiced a lead role character in the original films released between 2005 and 2012, and that the film released in 2014 was a spin-off to the original franchise, in which his role had been reduced comparatively. We also considered, given the considerable time that had elapsed since his main appearances, any promotional material associated with the franchise linking Mr Rock visually to the character, would not be relevant to those who were currently under 18 years of age. We acknowledged that those films remained popular with young children and that Mr Rock had a distinctive voice. However, we considered it was unlikely that the majority of children would associate his voice, as heard in the films, with his image as he appeared in the ad.

We also understood that he had recently voiced characters in two child-orientated films. In 2020, he voiced the narrator and a ‘mouse’ character in the film The Witches, a remake of the 1990 film based on the children’s book by Roahl Dahl of the same name. However, we noted those roles were not lead roles, and we considered they were roles that were unlikely to appeal strongly to under-18s. We also considered that there were no visual cues from either role that would have connected him to the ad and, again, we considered it would be unlikely that the majority of children would be able to recognise his voice from the film to his image in in the ad.

Mr Rock also voiced a character in the film Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, released at the time the ad was seen. The animated film was part of the highly popular children’s franchise that included a long running children’s TV series for which toys, clothes and other merchandise were available. We therefore considered the film was of strong appeal to under-18s. However, because his voice was heard for only 5 seconds, we considered it was not sufficiently prominent or significant to render him of strong appeal to under-18s. Again, we considered that there were no references in the ad which connected Mr Rock to the role he had voiced in the film.

Because all of the characters he portrayed in the films that we considered would strongly appeal to children were limited to voice-over roles, and there were no visual or physical similarities between the characters he portrayed and his appearance in the ad, we considered that, within the context of his overall career profile, he would likely not be of strong appeal to under-18s in the UK.

We then considered his social and other media profiles. We understood that as the host at the March 2022 Oscars, he had been involved in a high-profile incident, and assessed the impact that this incident had on Mr Rock’s appeal to children and young people. We acknowledged there had been significant online coverage of the incident across social media platforms popular with under-18s, including the circulation of memes that featured Mr Rock. We understood that memes were media content, such as videos or photos, spread widely online, especially through social media, and typically had a short lifespan. Therefore we considered the relevance and sharing of any meme associated with the incident would have significantly reduced by the time it was seen 18 months later in October 2023. For those reasons, we considered the event and memes did not make him of strong appeal to under-18s in the UK.

We next assessed his social media profile including his follower demographics and content of his accounts. Because he was only active on two platforms - Instagram and X - we assessed those two platforms. We noted he had 11.7 million followers globally across both platforms. Whilst that was a significant social media following, of his 6.3 million Instagram followers, 0.5% were registered as under 18 which amounted to 31,500, and 0.1% of his 5.4 million X followers were under 18, which amounted to 5,400 followers. Therefore, we considered a total of 36,900 under-18 followers globally did not suggest a strong appeal to that age group.

We understood it was not possible to obtain the number of under-18 followers on those platforms for a specific country, and therefore Bet MGM had estimated the number of under-18 followers for the UK using a mathematical approximation that had been based on the known figure of the total number of UK followers in conjunction with the percentage of under-18 followers globally. They estimated that the number of under-18s in the UK on X was approximately 567 and on Instagram was approximately 508. Whilst we acknowledged that those figures were estimates, because Mr Rock was a US-based celebrity who did not have a particularly high profile in the UK, we considered it was unlikely that the number of under-18 followers in the UK would be disproportionately higher than elsewhere, or that UK-based followers made up the majority of the total under-18 followers. We therefore considered that the estimated number of under-18 followers on Instagram and X was not a significant number in absolute terms, particularly in the context of his overall following both globally and in the UK.

We understood that he also had accounts on Snapchat, TikTok and Facebook and his total global following across those platforms was significant. However, we acknowledged that he had not been active on those social media platforms for some time, and had never uploaded content to TikTok. His most recent post on Facebook, which had the largest following of those three profiles, had been in March 2022. That post had been about his 2022 world tour dates in Australia and New Zealand. We noted that his Facebook profile comprised predominantly of historical promotional posts for that same world tour. We understood that tour featured themes predominantly of interest to adults and included American social and political commentary, family, parenting and dating. Other posts related to an American based comedy tour with another American comedian as well as his Netflix comedy special, which dealt with themes of race, fatherhood and politics. We also noted that he had never uploaded content to his TikTok account and that it linked directly to his own webpage, which focused on his brand, comedy tours and Netflix programmes, and therefore would not strongly appeal to children.

Finally, we assessed his presentation in the ad. We noted that he was dressed in a tuxedo with a life jacket, and considered that the clothes he was wearing were not reflective of youth culture, and therefore his presentation was likely not to be of strong appeal to under-18s. We acknowledged that the speedboat and lion that featured in the ad may have been of interest to children. However, we considered their presentation did not make those elements of strong appeal, particularly because they were featured alongside an orchestra playing a song by a band who had become popular in the 1980s, and the Bellagio fountain was a landmark at an adult-orientated gambling resort targeted at those over 21years of age. Therefore, we considered the ad was not presented in a way that would have strongly attracted the attention of under-18s or was likely to render the ad, or specifically Mr Rock, of strong appeal.

For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was not of strong appeal to children or young persons.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 17.4 and 17.4.5 (Gambling), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.


17.4     17.4.5    

More on