Channel 5 has been investigated by the advertising watchdog after broadcasting promotions for a poker app and online casino were run during "My Spiral Into Debt Hell", a documentary that featured a man who racked up £70,000 of gambling debts.

The programme, which is available to view on the broadcaster's website alongside text: "We meet four people who have each suffered shocking financial disaster", received 13 complaints from viewers who thought adverts for Rush Poker Mobile and were inappropriate given the subject of the show.

My Spiral Into Debt
Adverts in the break sparked 13 complaints Channel 5

Concerns were raised after the documentary, which was aired in March, told the story of city worker Justyn, who the blurb for the show described as "a city boy who seemed to have the perfect life, but he had secret debts of £70,000, which eventually cost him his career and his family."

But after looking into the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found Channel 5 had not breached its code of conduct and took no further action.

It concluded that while the show did highlight the story of an individual who had suffered financially as a result of gambling, the content was "anecdotal in nature" and did not provide "practical advice to vulnerable indebted viewers".

It decided the adverts were "not irresponsible, or an unsuitable juxtaposition" and therefore judged they were unlikely to cause distress or offence to viewers.

Channel 5 response

Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd said the programme 'My Spiral into Debt Hell' illustrated how people became indebted and coped with it subsequently. They said the message of the online gambling story was that gambling did not solve financial problems, rather using gambling as a solution to financial problems was likely to lead to further financial difficulty and debt.

Channel 5 said the documentary was shown after 9pm and was aimed at an adult audience with an interest in contemporary issues.