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Monopoly ad too enticing for children, ASA rules

Kids these days like their Fortnite, they like their Instagram, and according to a recent Google survey, they like Oreos, I guess. The real danger though is that U.K. gambling firms might have keyed in on a beloved brand amongst the Gen-Z generation: the 84 year old Monopoly board game.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently ruled that an ad appearing on the Mirror Online website, prominently featuring Rich Uncle Pennybags, was too enticing for impressionable young minds, reports The Guardian. They’ve ordered the ad, which advertised for Entertaining Play, a subsidiary of Gamesys, banned as a result.

I’m as appalled as you are, dear reader, that a gambling firm would use the innocent image of Mr. Pennybags to advertise gambling to children. The wholesome board game, played with dice and figurative money, is nothing like gambling, and children shouldn’t link the two.

Snark aside, Reverend Dr. Alan Smith, bishop of St. Albans, agreed with the ban. He said:

“Board games should be allowed to remain board games and must be off-limits to gambling companies pushing boundaries in order to normalise highly addictive casino games.”

Entertaining Play was dismayed at the ruling, and argued that it’s unlikely the board game mascot was attractive to children. They wrote he “did not possess exaggerated features and did not mimic any style of cartoon character seen in current children’s programming.”

The Mirror Online was also shocked at the ruling. They didn’t believe Mr. Pennybags had any cache with children these days, and also made sure an 18+ label was prominent in the ad.

All the same, the ASA was firm in their decision. “We considered that Monopoly was a family game generally played by or with children, and that under-18s would therefore recognise and find the ad’s references to it appealing,” they wrote.

Many of the ASA’s rulings have made a lot of sense in this area, and they deserve credit for protecting children from targeted advertising. Ads targeting children are generally down, and that’s in large part due to their effort in monitoring and removing ads that are being put in the places the youth go to the most.

This is a bit overboard though. Monopoly is cool with kids for about 20 minutes when they’re 8 years old, and then it isn’t cool again until they’re about 60 years old. Considering the game’s similarities to gambling already, they might have given it a pass.