Media and advertising watchdogs in the UK are determined to hold gambling-related companies to higher standards, even if those standards aren’t always clear. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently ruled against 888 UK Ltd for a complaint about the gambling group’s 777.com offshoot.
A 777.com ad, which appeared on the betterdeals.live website earlier this year, was three minutes long and featured text that read at the top, “77 Free Spins (*T&Cs Apply) ENABLED FOR ANOTHER.”
According to at least one viewer, this was misleading. The individual interpreted the ad to mean that the free spins offer didn’t end when the timer reached zero. They later lodged a complaint with the ASA.
Additional claims were also made against the ad. One took issue with the phrase, “Casinos are trying to shut down a free Android App.” The other was bothered by the second half of the same ad, which continued, “that’s allowing everyday people, like Simona Moron, to win huge progressive jackpots using nothing but free spins.”
No Responsibility For the Ad
777 claimed the ASA investigated the matter and that the advert was published without the approval or consent of the online casino.
Instead, they say it had been published by a third-party publisher. 777 had also contacted the publisher and ordered the ad to be dropped, while simultaneously suspending all campaigns with the third party “until further notice.”
The ASA clarified that consumers were the beneficiaries of the ad and, as a result, they would know that the countdown to zero would refer to a specific time reference. This means that the promotion will not be available after that time, even though the page’s refresh would reset the timer.
Advertising watchdogs in the UK believe these ads are inciting individuals to gamble more and gamble more rapidly.
ASA Stands Firm on Ruling
The ASA determined that the statement that “Casinos tried to close down a free Android application” was an indication that casinos actively sought to prevent the app from running.
The ASA said that it was also possible for consumers to comprehend the second half of the ad as asserting that players could win large progressive jackpots using nothing other than free spins. This would indicate that consumers have accumulated substantial winnings using just free spins.
The watchdog argued that 777.com didn’t provide any evidence to support the claim. Therefore, it decided the ad was misleading.
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about.
“We told 888 UK Ltd t/a 777.com to ensure that they held adequate evidence to substantiate claims made in ads for 777, even when placed by affiliate marketers. We also reminded them that they must ensure that future advertising for 777 did not misleadingly imply that offers were time-limited, for example by using a countdown clock, if that was not the case,” the ASA asserted in its ruling admonishing 888 and its 777 subsidiary.
The ASA, however, didn’t issue any further penalties.
Gambling Ads Must Be Plain and Simple
Under UK gaming regulations, ads should be made as plain and simple as possible. Repeatedly, operators have come under fire for marketing schemes that were either “too cute” or “too enticing.”
Where they can advertise is also an issue. A couple of years ago, William Hill, well before it was purchased by Caesars Entertainment, placed an ad on the Tinder dating app. That was enough to result in a reprimand, with a complaint being delivered to the ASA that it was linking gambling with sex.
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