Isle of Man-based online poker site PokerStars.com has been criticised by the UK Advertsing Standards Authority (ASA) watchdog for a campaign that impied gambling could make a player more confident and courageous.
The campaign for PokerStars.com featured the headline ‘Play Mind Games’ and featured Canadian professional poker player Daniel Negreanu brandishing an ice hockey stick. Under the four-time World Series of Poker champion was a line that read ‘poker is a sport of courage, conviction and confidence’.
Under ASA rules, advertisemenst are not permitted to link gambling with sexual success or an improved self-image and must not appeal to children and young people. The regulatory body revealed that it had received one complaint that the reference to ‘courage, conviction and confidence’ was irresponsible and ‘exploited the susceptibilities of children’. In addition, the complaint argued that the use of the word ‘sport’ also appealed to young people and encouraged them to gamble.
Although the ASA ruled that the use of the world ‘sport’ did not break its rules, it did challenge PokerStars.com on whether the reference to ‘courage, conviction and confidence’ linked poker to toughness and resilience while implying that gambling could enhance these qualities.
PokerStars.com stated that the advert quoted the 34-year-old poker champion's opinions about what was required to be successful and did not imply that a person could acquire these qualities by gambling. It said that the reference was meant to draw a distinction between poker, a game of individual skill, and chance-based gambling.
However, the ASA ruled that ‘courage, conviction and confidence’ were attributes that demonstrated mental toughness or resilience and would be seen as ‘admirable qualities by the target audience of 21 to 44-year-old men’.
'We also considered that the claim implied not only that those qualities were needed in order to play poker but also that success at poker would, therefore, enhance those qualities,' read a statement from the ASA.
'Because of that we concluded that the ad breached the code.'
The ASA has stated that the advertisement should not appear again in its current form.