E-sports can represent a great opportunity for teams and players to engage with fans and maintain their brands – and even generate revenue – when lockdown restrictions have halted all normal play. But the Advertising Standard Agency (ASA) warns that those offering British consumers the opportunity to bet on e-sports must comply with all the usual rules for gambling advertising.

We are seeing increases in both the participation in, and the viewing of, e-sports. Just one example of the current popularity: after Formula 1 events were cancelled, more than half a million people watched an “All-Star Esports Battle”: a virtual car race using an existing racing game, in which real race car drivers participated, organised by the online motorsports magazine The Race. 

The Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) has issued an advice notice for all GB-licensed gambling operators, providing guidance on how to stay within the rules when marketing gambling on e-sports using any social media platform. The CAP has also flagged that it will be making further use of adtech to identify non-compliant ads.Key messages from the advice include:

1.It must be clear when material is marketing. Where this may be less clear – eg when published by a third party such as an influencer, brand ambassador or affiliate – they recommend using a clear identifier such as “#ad” at the start.

2.Marketing must not be targeted at under-18s or other vulnerable people (including those who have self-excluded), in either the choice of media or content. If search terms may particularly appeal to children, then steps must be taken to prevent under-18s viewing the ad – and an automated warning that a video may be suitable only for over-18s which can be by-passed simply by pressing “continue” will not cut the mustard. Influencers associated with youth culture and apps with appeal to under-18s may well not be appropriate conduits to promote gambling.

3.Terms and conditions – including offers of free bets and bonuses – must be clear, and significant terms should be included on social media. The CAP acknowledges that space restrictions may mean some terms can be one click away, but expects advertisers to use all available technical options to include significant terms and conditions.4.The gambling operators, and affiliates and others promoting the gambling, will be equally responsible for the advertisement