The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against BetUK for adverts featuring former pro-footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Former Swansea City player Akinfenwa is a brand ambassador for BetUK, who featured in a radio advert for the sportsbook brand operated by MGM-owned casino firm LeoVegas.

The radio featured a statement saying: “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.”

In the ASA’s view, despite being retired, Akinfenwa still holds a strong appeal to under-18-year-old consumers due to his career as a footballer. The player’s physical strength, which led to the nickname of ‘The Beast’, was cited by the ASA in its assessment.

The former Doncaster Rovers, Millwall and Swansea striker was the highest rated player in the FIFA video game based on strength, which the ASA asserted had led to him receiving status as a ‘cult hero’.

Additionally, the authority also referenced the footballer’s social media following, finding that 8% of his 1.3 million Instagram followers were registered as under-18, amounting to around 116,000 users.

Additionally, 13% of his Snapchat followers were found to be under-18, amounting to around 41,000 followers. Although Akinfenwa’s TikTok, Facebook, X ( formerly known as Twitter) and YouTube follower demographics were unavailable, the ASA concluded that he has ‘at least’ 157,000 followers under 18 years old.

The ASA’s ruling does differ from past decisions regarding the use of retired footballers in bookmaker marketing material. 
Notably, the use of high-profile ex-players such as Peter Crouch and Micah Richards in ads for Paddy Power and Sky Bet – both owned by Flutter Entertainmentwas excused by the ASA in a ruling last year.

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