This week the Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling page was awash with rulings against some of the big online casino operators.
The companies involved were 888, Sky Vegas, Ladbrokes and Casumo and each of the complaints that were received, of which there were 10 in total, were because of poorly written and non-complaint advertorials!
Each of the four companies were found to be in breach of a substantial number of CAP Codes and the majority were around social responsibility but also, the advertorials in question were not clear in the fact that were marketing communications.
In each of the offending advertorials, the storyline used in an effort to encourage the reader to sign up to the brand in question was awful.
It told a story of a man whose wife had cancer and her medical bills had been a contributory factor to a debt of £130,000. He went on to Facebook to update friends and family of her health and whilst he did so, he noticed an advert for the casino in question.
It tells of how he was tired and depressed and at first, laughed at the advert because he had little to no money until he saw the references to various welcome offers and bonuses or jackpot values. Each of the brands had a different offer listed in the same story across various sites.
We don’t profess to know the CAP and BCAP codes in their entirety but common sense dictates that trying to promote gambling in this way is morally wrong.
The CAP Codes breached were:
Marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited.
Marketing communications must not:
portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm
suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security
Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such.
Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them ‘advertisement feature’.
However, who is at fault? Is it the person who wrote the advertorial or the casino or gambling site that they are trying to earn money from by promoting? In our opinion it is the former but we accept the buck has to stop somewhere!
As we expected, each of the operators responded to the ASA by explaining that the advert had been created by an affiliate, and in each of the cases, by the same affiliate.
Three of the four casino operators had terminated their agreement with the partner in question whilst Casumo simply had the ad removed and then informed all marketing business partners and affiliates of the CAP Code for advertising guidelines.
You can read all of the relevant rulings by following the links listed below: