A recent paid-for-message for William Hill on the dating app Tinder has been pulled by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for suggesting that sexual success can be linked to gambling.

The message, first shown on 11 March, read: “Stuck in the friend zone? You won’t be for much longer if you use this Cheltenham free bet offer” followed by a link to download the William Hill mobile app.

The complainant raised the issue that William Hill’s message was in contravention of advertising standards due to the fact that it linked gambling to sexual success.

William Hill responded to the complaint by stressing that customers are often known to “shop around” for the best odds and betting offers available, and that customers could use the bookmakers site as a comparison for other sites.

The operator pointed out that if a customer was to sign up to the William Hill app, they would “enter into a relationship with William Hill, where they would have access to all areas of the site and the services they offered.”

The response explained: “Upon reflection, they agreed that it had the potential to be interpreted differently, but it was not their intention to link gambling to sexual success. They had removed the ad and were in the process of conducting a full review of existing content on the platform.”

The advertising watchdog pointed out that it did acknowledge William Hill’s efforts to remove the advert, but added that the ad’s text did strongly suggest that the ad “did link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness”, suggesting that those who gambled would be more likely to develop a friendship into a sexual relationship and therefore linked gambling with sexual success.

The ASA subsequently ruled that the advert must not be released again in its current form.