The UK’s advertising standards authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against GVC subsidiary ElectraWorks for suggesting gambling could be a source of financial security in a Google search ad, but rejected a complaint against Flutter Entertainment’s Betfair Casino.
This prompted a complaint from a viewer of the ad, who said it suggested consumers could achieve financial security by playing the advertised slots and bingo games.
ElectraWorks acknowledged that the ad did not abide by marketing guidelines and said it “appeared as a result of human error” and that it had taken action to remove it.
The ASA upheld the complaint, arguing that the ad “suggested to consumers that the gambling system offered by the advertiser could be used to ‘earn’ money and therefore attain a regular source of income”.
This, it said, meant the ad violated Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code 16.3.4, which says ads must not suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security.
The ad must not appear again in this form, and the ASA warned ElectraWorks to ensure all future promotions did not present gambling as a solution to financial issues.
The Betfair Casino ad, meanwhile appeared on television in July 2020. It showed a man in an airport rushing to board an aeroplane while another man appeared relaxed with the Betfair Casino app visible on his phone.
It featured a voiceover, which said: “The average time between the final call and boarding closing is 4 minutes and 53 seconds… an unofficial fact officially brought to you by Betfair Casino. Because when there’s a chance, there’s always a chance.”
The player then boarded his flight while continuing to use the Betfair Casino app.
This led to a complaint from a viewer, who said it “portrayed gambling as taking priority in life by showing someone gambling in a time-pressured situation after the final boarding call for his flight”.
CAP code 17.3.4 notes that ads may not “portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments”.
Betfair, however, argued the ad was not irresponsible, and noted that it had been approved by ad clearance service ClearCast.
The operator said the man in the advertisement “appeared to be aware of his surroundings and boarding time” and “only intended to have a quick game on Betfair Casino before his flight departed”. It pointed out that as the man boarded in time and did not appear to be travelling with any friends or family, it did not appear that he was prioritising gambling over anything in particular.
ClearCast echoed this sentiment and argued that there was “no suggestion in the ad that gambling was taking priority in the man’s life over other commitments nor did it portray gambling in a socially irresponsible way” or “that he had held up the flight from departing”.
The ASA ultimately ruled on the side of Betfair. It said that while he was “momentarily occupied with gambling” he was not distracted by it, having apparently heard the ‘final call’, and boarded his flight “in a calm and collected manner without needing to rush”.
“We did not consider that the ad gave the impression that people should gamble in situations where they were genuinely at risk of being distracted from an important task,” the ASA said. “We therefore concluded that the ad did not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, or portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life.”
As the complaint as not upheld, no further action was deemed necessary.