A new ad featuring young Norweigan pro Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad is causing a stir in Europe. The e-mail advertisement, sent out by Betfair poker, featured a photo of the young pro paired with the tagline: “Online experience is measured in games, not years. Join the new breed. Annette Obrestad – “Annette_15”.” According to a statement from the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the ad was inappropriate and will not be allowed to be distributed to British residents.
The ASA cited two major complaints with the advertisement. First, it broke an ASA rule that states that only people older than 25 years-old are allowed to be featured in gambling-related business ads. At 20, Obrestad is much younger than that benchmark. The ASA’s other concern is that the glamourizing of Obrestad and the emphasis on her iconic screenname was specifically trying to appeal to potential customers who are too young to play on Betfair’s online poker room.
Betfair appealed the ASA’s decision. In their responses, they explained that Obrestad’s standing as a professional poker player supercedes her age. While Obrestad is only 20, her impact on the poker world has been impressive to say the least. She is the youngest World Series of Poker bracelet winner in history, claiming the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Event title in 2007 at the age of 18 and has million of dollars in online winnings as well. Betfair also argued that since the e-mail in no way implies that Obrestad is currently under the legal British gambling age of 18 and since the e-mail was not knowingly distributed to minors, they could not be accused of actively trying to market their site to teenagers.
Despite opposing the ASA’s decision, Betfair did apologize to the organization for featuring Obrestad in a British ad and assured them she would not be featured in ads in the future. Considering the other two marquee sponsored pros for Betfair, Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi and WSOPE 2007 Main Event runner-up John Tabatabai, are under the age of 25 as well, that leaves the site in a bind about how to incorporate their pros in British marketing.
After reviewing Betfair’s argument, the ASA elected to uphold their original ruling. The ASA stated that though Obrestad may be of legal gambling age now, the screenname “Annette_15” overtly implied she was 15 years-old when she began her poker career. The ASA concluded, “the ad was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people, and that, by representing a successful young poker player with the implication she was 15 years old, it could encourage young people to gamble and was therefore irresponsible.”
This year’s WSOPE kicks off in London on Thursday and the marquee sponsor of the event is none other than Betfair Poker. There has been no word about how this decision from the ASA will affect Betfair’s presence at the prestigious poker tournament which runs from September 17th-26th.

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