A TV ad for Paddy Power Games, seen in December 2017, featured a jaded casino security guard singing to the tune of “Papa Loves Mambo” while watching through monitors the casino customers gambling. He sang “Watching ‘em gamble from a sneaky camera angle. Yeah, look at ‘em play on it; spinning away on it, they’re rubbing my face in it now. Still I can’t grumble. I’ll have a cheeky little dabble. Yeah I’ll have a spin on it, when I’m on break, the daily jackpot’s looking great now” and was shown using his mobile phone to gamble using the Paddy Power app whilst in a café on his break sitting opposite another customer. A waitress in the café also echoed the line “a cheeky little dabble” while placing drinks on their table.
Two viewers, who believed that the ad showed the security guard as desperate to gamble during his break and portrayed gambling as taking priority in life, challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible.
PPB Entertainment Limited t/a Paddy Power Games said that they were mindful of the requirements of the BCAP Code and their licensing obligations to the Gambling Commission when creating the ad, which was prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and society, and it had been re-edited following a previous complaint relating to the ad depicting gambling in the workplace. They said there was no suggestion that the main character in the ad, the casino security guard, was neglecting any work or family commitments, or that gambling took priority in life. They said the character described his betting activity as “a cheeky little dabble” and “I’ll have a spin on it, when I’m on break”, which did not suggest he was betting to excess or for a long period.
They said the casino location was selected as the Paddy Power Games product offered online casino games, and although the guard looked slightly bored at work, he actively carried out his employment duties at all relevant times during the ad. Paddy Power Games stated the end scene was set in a café, with the security guard having food on a permitted break from work, as clearly referenced with the line “when I’m on break”. They said the café location was chosen to avoid any suggestion that the security guard was still working, and he was deliberately shown sat at a table with a friend in a social environment, rather than on his own, to ensure that the ad did not breach the Code rules by suggesting that solitary gambling was preferable to social gambling. They considered that the portrayal of the use of the gambling app in a social environment during a person’s own leisure time was not socially irresponsible.
Clearcast reiterated the main points in the Paddy Power Games response. They said it was evidently clear that the security guard was choosing to gamble in his spare time, and the café location and social environment suggested to them that the character regularly met his friend there for lunch, and that he was committed to spending time with his friend rather than choosing to gamble on his own.
The BCAP Code stated that advertisements must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm. It also stated advertisements must not portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments.
The ASA acknowledged the ad suggested the security guard was envious to some degree when watching people gambling and having fun at a casino while he was at work monitoring CCTV footage of the casino floor. However, the guard’s voice-over and expressions were monotone and unenthusiastic regarding the people in the casino, and we considered his description of his own gambling as a “cheeky little dabble”, a line which was emphasised further by the waitress, did not suggest any desperation to gamble. He was also shown using the gambling app in a social situation in a café, no longer in his working uniform, and the ad made clear that he was on his break from work. We considered his gambling was not presented as taking priority over work or social commitments.
For those reasons, we concluded that the ad did not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, or portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life over other commitments.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 17.3.1 17.3.1 portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm and 17.3.4 17.3.4 portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments (Gambling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.