British Airways in Trouble for Casino Ad
British Airways has found itself in hot soup after allegations emerged that it was glamorizing gambling. The air carrier had come under criticism after running a television commercial that highlighted a couple winning slots at a casino. The ad triggered a series of complaints to the advertising regulator. MPs and campaigners also came out in criticism of the advertisement.
The British Airways Holidays advertisement depicts a couple going back to their room from a location that can only be described as a casino after a swim in the hotel pool. They also speak of spending some spare change on the slot machine and walking away with their winnings.
Former conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, stated that he was “stunned” by the commercial and would take up the matter for discussion with cross-party colleagues immediately. He also described the commercial as “utterly appalling” and questioned BA’s motivations.
A cross-party parliamentary group of MPs, headed by Carolyn Harris, a Labour MP, will be writing to BA, condemning its decisions to broadcast the commercial.
The commercial was broadcasted only a few weeks after gambling operators agreed to strict advertising regulations, which were put in place due to the growing number of incidents involving underage gamblers. The regulations were also designed to prevent vulnerable groups, such as gambling addicts, from being targeted.
The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) stated that it had received many complaints about the BA commercial claiming that it promoted and portrayed gambling in a glamorous and frivolous manner, which was an irresponsible thing to do.
Gambling Addiction Needs More Attention
Marc Etches, who serves as the Chief Executive for GambleWare, a gambling addiction awareness group, came out in criticism of the ad as well, stating that it did not have any warnings about gambling addiction. According to current regulations, gambling addiction warnings are required to be shown alongside gambling commercials and other promotional material.
Etches also added that gambling addiction must be recognized as a public health issue and pointed out to the consequences of gambling addiction. He emphasized the damage it caused to individuals and families and cited the need for gambling operators to recognize the pivotal role they play in helping create more awareness.
Fairer Gambling’s Matt Zarb-Cousin, who successfully managed to restrict FOBTs (Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals), also criticized BA’s ad. He said it was akin to BA glorifying a pot-smoking trip to Amsterdam.
BA is currently working to withdraw the ad, according to updates.