Revel Entertainment, an Atlantic City casino, is struggling to stay afloat. Caught up in the general malaise afflicting Atlantic City and desperate to attract more players, the casino developed what it no doubt thought was a brilliant promotion last July – an offer to refund all customers for losses at its slot machines. The promotion reportedly drew in a huge uptick of slot machine revenue – a 32 percent increase compared to July 2012. Unfortunately, Revel now faces two putative class actions (available here and here) from customers who argue that they were misled by Revel’s advertisements.
Revel’s advertisements declared “You can’t lose” and “All July slot losses refunded.” The fine print clarified that limitations applied, but the plaintiffs argue that those limitations contradicted the main message of the advertisements. For instance, Revel would not reimburse losses with cash, but with casino credits that could only be used at Revel slot machines. Those credits could be claimed only in five percent increments over each of the following 20 weeks, and customers who didn’t use their allotted credits in any given week lost them.
While disclosures are useful for clarifying advertising claims and promotion terms, advertisers must be aware that they cannot use the “fine print” to contradict the main message of the advertisement. Revel appears to have gambled that its disclosure is not so contradictory. Time will tell whether that is a gamble it has won or lost.