What can be more ridiculous? ASA has recently banned an online advertisement featuring the character associated with the Monopoly game, The Guardian reports.

Or was it actually a good thing? Let’s find out.

What happened?

ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority, has found an ad online that featured Rich Uncle Pennybags, the character you most likely associate with Monopoly.

The ad was placed on a regular website, but it didn’t lead to a monopoly website. It was a gambling ad that used Rich Uncle Pennybags to attract attention.

It’s understandable that a gambling company does whatever it can to be relevant, but didn’t they cross the limits here?

A misfire or a predatory ad?

It may seem weird that the regulator banned the ad for simply mentioning this character, but there’s a logic behind this.

Monopoly is a widely popular game, but few adults play it on their own. They may play Mafia or the latest installment of the Game of Thrones table game, but not Monopoly. Adults mostly play monopoly with children, and this matters.

The company behind the ad wasn’t malicious, as far as we know. It comes off as an ill-advised decision on their part.

They used a well-known character to make their casino website relevant but didn’t think through the consequences. Since Rich Uncle Pennybags is mostly known by minors, some may click on the ad, not understanding it’s a casino.

Either way, using a mascot that is most likely subject to copyright is not the best idea.

The broader context

This may not have mattered if not for one thing. There’s a huge problem with underage gambling in the UK. The recent studies show figures as high as 55,000 children between 11 and 16 years of age being addicted to some form of gambling.

For a first-world country like the UK, it’s a disaster. Underage real money gambling results in broken psyches and petty theft. Children who don’t have a source of income would steal their parents’ money to gamble, or even turn to crime to feed their addiction.

These cases are rare, but there’s a huge social outcry about the fact that so many young Brits are hooked on gambling. It gets the attention it deserves.

Excluding children from gambling

Even though the action itself may seem comical, ASA did a great job. They continue to improve on policies that exclude children from gambling and keep their eyes close to the industry.

The best thing about their approach is that they didn’t try to criminalize gambling. It’s way too easy an option. ASA and UKGC understand that banning gambling like in Uganda is a bad policy. It will only drive people to illegal casinos which the government can’t control.

Instead, they try their best to make the market safe for children. Previously, they have installed new regulations that prevent websites and influencers with minors in followers from collaborating with gambling companies.

Now, they’re setting a precedent for the industry to follow.