Lottoland is to pay £150,000 following a Gambling Commission investigation into the remote bet on lottery operator’s advertising and marketing practices.
In February 2017, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint in respect of one of Lottoland’s radio adverts, finding it to be in breach of the BCAP Code (and therefore the Commission’s licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP)). The complainant challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that Lottoland was offering the opportunity to participate in a lottery as opposed to offering bets on the outcome of that lottery. This distinction is seen by both the Commission and the ASA as a particularly important one because a percentage of the proceeds of a lottery are distributed to good causes.
On the back of the ASA’s ruling, the Gambling Commission undertook a licence review which included further investigation into Lottoland’s use of advertising, website and social media for marketing purposes. It found that on various occasions Lottoland had failed to make it clear to consumers that they were betting and not participating in a lottery. As a result, Lottoland has agreed to pay £150,000 to a socially responsible cause as part of its regulatory settlement. A public statement outlining its failings has also been published and can be found here.
Lottoland’s fine comes in the wake of the landmark £300,000 penalty imposed on BGO. The fine was imposed as a result of the Commission finding as part of a licence review that nine adverts on BGO’s website and fourteen adverts on websites of its affiliates for promotions were misleading and in breach of the LCCP. Coupled with the fine levied on Lottoland, the importance of compliant advertising is certainly becoming increasingly apparent, as is the Commission’s willingness to take action in this domain rather than leaving this solely to the ASA.
The Commission also found that, during its informal investigation prior to BGO’s licence review, the remote operator failed to take timely and effective action to address the misleading advertisements identified by the Commission and provided inaccurate assurances that the issues had been fully addressed. Lottoland on the other hand acted quickly and was able to provide adequate assurances to the Commission, as reflected in the substantially lower penalty agreed in a voluntary settlement.
Lottoland is, however, still awaiting the result of the Government’s consultation on prohibiting betting on the outcome of non-UK versions of the EuroMillions. This consultation was initiated due to fears that the lines between the National Lottery and betting are becoming blurred, leading to confusion amongst customers and a potential threat to funds raised for good causes. For our full report on the consultation see here.