On 5 December 2017, the Gambling Commission published the result of its investigation into four gambling websites owned and operated by Broadway Gaming Ltd (“Broadway”).
The Gambling Commission found that advertisements on the sites Bingo Diamond, Casino of Dreams, Dotty Bingo and Rehab Bingo were potentially misleading and hence breached the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (the “CAP Code”). Compliance with the CAP Code is required under provision 18.104.22.168 of the Gambling Commission’s Social Responsibility Code in relation to free bets, bonuses and other similar offers.
Broadway will pay to the Gambling Commission a sum of £100,000 in lieu of a financial penalty.
The ads in question promoted the following offer: "Deposit £10. Play £35".
In a previous ruling against Broadway, handed down by the ASA in June 2016, it was held that this ad was misleading; the CAP Code requires that ads “communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead” (CAP Code provision 8.17). The ASA ruled that the ad, posted on another of Broadway’s sites, Butlers Bingo, “failed to make clear that a wagering requirement applied before consumers could withdraw their winnings”.
Under the promotion, consumers would have to wager five times the bonus funds received (£25) in respect of bingo (i.e. at least £125) and 50 times the bonus funds received for certain casino games and slots (i.e. at least £1,250) in order to withdraw their winnings. In addition, wagers on certain other casino games did not count towards the wagering requirement.
Whilst the ASA acknowledged that the wagering requirement had been set out in the website’s terms and conditions, it found that it was a significant condition which should have been included in the main body of the advert. Omitting such a term from the ad itself would be likely to mislead consumers.
The Gambling Commission has decided to follow this decision in its investigation of the same offer published on Bingo Diamond, Casino of Dreams, Dotty Bingo and Rehab Bingo, as well as on other websites by Broadway’s affiliate marketers.
Actions by Broadway
In addition to the payment of £100,000 in lieu of a financial penalty, Broadway has amended its marketing to comply with the Gambling Commission’s finding. The Gambling Commission also confirmed that Broadway had “provided assurances that it has enhanced its procedures and controls to ensure future marketing communication does not mislead consumers”.
The Gambling Commission published the following recommendations to operators to help them to avoid falling into the same trap:
- Have you ensured marketing communications include significant limitations and qualifications which consumers should be aware of?
- Have you ensured marketing communications are compliant with LCCP provisions and CAP and BCAP rules?
- Have you used the free and paid-for copy advice service provided by the ASA and CAP?
- Have you ensured contractual terms and conditions with affiliates are robust?
- Have you ensured that affiliates are clear of their requirements regarding advertising standards and the consequences of compliance failings?
- Are you conducting regular audits of your affiliates’ activity against your compliance policy?
- Are you auditing new affiliates’ websites, in addition to the creative and copy used, before accepting them onto your affiliate programme?
The full Gambling Commission ruling can be found here.