An advertisement for Monopoly's online casino game is going to be banned by the advertising regulator about concern that using familiar cartoon mascot Rich Board – Rich Uncle Pennybags – could appeal to children.
The Advertising Standards Authority found that the advert, which appeared on the Mirror Online website, had broken its code, saying that gambling advertisements should not be advertised to appeal to young people.
The ban comes under increasing concern about children being exposed to gambling, through channels including TV adverts, football shirt sponsorship, computer games, apps and social media.
An audit by the Gambling Commission released last year revealed that the number of problem gamblers between the ages of 11 and 16 rose significantly to 55,000 over two years, causing concern about a “generation scandal”.
The QAA has not yet announced its ruling but the Guardian understands that the regulator has told Entertaining Play, the company based on Gibraltar behind the game, t should not appear again.
Entertaining Play, whose parent company Gamesys manages gambling products using the Richard Branson brand Virgin, argued that Mr Monopoly's character, whose real name is Rich Uncle Pennybags, was unlikely to be attractive to children.
He said the character had been dressed in adult costume and “had no exaggerated features and did not mimic any cartoon style seen in the current children's programs”.
The company added that the colors used in the advert were not “rough or over-lively and that they were not inspired by youth culture” and that it had taken steps to ensure it was targeted. for people over the age of 18 only.
Mirror Online told the QAA that he did not think the advert would appeal to children and included reading an 18+ label.
But the QAA said there was no way of ensuring that people under the age of 18 were not exposed to the advert and did not comply with the code.
“We were of the opinion that Monopoly was a family game that was played generally by or with children, and so young people under 18 would recognize and find that the advert was referring to it, ”He said.
“The advert also featured a prominent image of Mr Monopoly's character who had exaggerated features of a children's cartoon reminder, which meant that the image would also appeal to people under 18 years of age.
Given the advert in its entirety, we were of the view that the use of the Monopoly logo and illustrating Mr Monopoly's character meant that the advertisement was likely to appeal more to people under 18 than to people over the age of 18 years. ”
Hasbro did not publish Monopoly, and Gamesys responding to requests for comments.