The ASA ruling on Paddy Power's Oscar Pistorius ad won't prevent bookmakers taking a gamble on poor taste bets in future

They were right to point out the ad was appalling, but the betting industry does not need a good press or a good reputation to stay in rude health

Share

There is nothing you can’t take a punt on these days.  The number of leg-byes in a cricket match; seats to be won by Ukip in the European elections; even the outcome of the Russian parliament’s vote on the absorption of Crimea – all are up for grabs if you are so-minded to chance your arm.

Paddy Power caused a stir last month when it offered bets on the outcome of the ongoing Oscar Pistorius murder trial.  But it was an advertisement for the wager that really raised the hackles, featuring as it did an image of Oscar Pistorius’s face on an Academy Award with the headline: ‘It’s Oscar Time’.  The ad offered “money back if he walks” and proposed to “refund all losing bets on the…trial if he is found not guilty”.

While evidently this proves beyond all doubt that you really can get odds on anything, the firm’s ad has now felt the wrath of the Advertising Standard Authority.  In a stinging rebuke, the ASA ruled that it “went further than simply being in poor taste” and was likely to cause “serious or widespread offence” to those who saw it.  In short, “it brought advertising into disrepute”.

This last element of the judgement is fascinating because it reminds us what was at stake here: not the trial itself, not the fact of a bookmaker seeking to capitalise on a major news event, but simply a one-off marketing device.  Sure enough, the advertisement was quite obviously appalling and good on the ASA for saying so.  But what does it actually mean for Paddy Power? 

After all, the betting industry does not need a good press or a good reputation to stay in rude health.  Nor is there a financial penalty to go alongside the rebuke: Paddy Power have simply been told to behave better in the future.

Many of us have a flutter from time to time on things we know about: often sporting events that we plan to watch.  But in a world where there is no limit to the availability of information about any subject, the horizons of the gambler have inevitably broadened.  Bookmakers have no interest in restricting them.

So, an offensive ad is in the can, never again to see the light of day.  But a rebuke by the regulator of the multi-billion pound advertising sector will surely have no effect whatsoever on the activities the multi-billion pound gambling industry.

@willjgore

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence