On 1 March 2017 the Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA") upheld a complaint against LeoVegas Gaming Ltd on the basis that one of its advertorials – which promoted a registration bonus offer – suggested that participants would win a cash prize and was therefore misleading and in breach of the CAP Code.
The infringing advertorial
The advertorial in question appeared on www.mirror.co.uk, and featured the headline “How Brits can get an extra £1,500 from this online loophole". Further text stated "One online casino is giving Brits an extra special welcome bonus… Would you like to be £1500 better off? Online casino LeoVegas' latest welcome bonus has led to Brits getting an extra £1,500 to bet with by matching players' first four deposits”. A complainant subsequently challenged whether the advertorial misleadingly suggested that consumers would receive £1,500 in cash rather than bonus funds.
In their response to the complainant, LeoVegas pointed to the fact that the word “cash” was not used anywhere in the advertorial, whereas the phrase “welcome bonus” was used on two separate occasions. Further, they stated that they believed that the ad provided a clear explanation that the £1,500 bonus was contingent upon LeoVegas matching players’ first four deposits.
Whilst noting that the advert did include language which clearly labeled it a welcome bonus, the regulator found that on the whole the advertorial did not make it sufficiently clear whether consumers would receive the £1,500 in cash or bonus funds. As a result, they held that it was in breach of rule 3.1 of the CAP Code (which requires that marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so) and upheld the complaint.
In their ruling the ASA noted the headline “How Brits can get an extra £1,500 from this ‘online’ loophole” and the caption "would you like to be £1,500 better off?". They considered that, in the context of a betting advert, consumers would interpret such language to mean that the consumer had the chance of winning the amount in cash. The ASA considered that the ad was likely to confuse consumers as to what was being offered, and as a result would be misleading.
This ruling serves as yet another illustration of the ASA's focus on gambling operators and more generally the need to ensure that advertisements are sufficiently clear in terms of what is being offered under any promotion. Gambling operators would be wise to take note of the fact that the inclusion of wording stating the promotion was for a welcome bonus – and the lack of any reference to "cash" – did not preclude the ASA from finding in the complainants favour as the overall impression of the advert was likely to confuse, and hence potentially mislead consumers.
The full ruling from the ASA can be found here.