UK authorities, as well as some social networks and search engines, have been recently focused on protecting local customers by guaranteeing transparency. However, the problem with so-called “fake news” has escalated, as such news are used in various directions as they usually guarantee quick success to marketing and advertising campaigns.
Over the last few years, the number of gambling operators using fake news as part of their native ads policy in order to attract new players has increased. What is more, fake news seem to play an even more important part in gambling companies’ marketing campaigns, as operators often use them for attracting potential customers in the native way.
Four Gambling Operators Warned for Using Misleading Advertising Practices
Today, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the self-regulatory organisation of the UK’s advertising industry, have issued warnings of four leading gambling brands that operate on the territory of the country. The Authority scolded Ladbrokes, Sky Vegas, 888 UK Ltd and Casumo for using misleading and socially irresponsible advertising practices.
According to the ruling of the advertising industry watchdog, so-called fake news were used as native ads by the aforementioned operators to help them attract new customers. The online adverts of the operators were placed by affiliate marketers on websites so that they could not be clearly identified as ads.
Two issues related to Ladbrokes Betting and Gaming Ltd were investigated and both of them were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The person who filed the complaint challenged an ad for the brand’s casino seen on June 2nd, calling it irresponsible. The advert was published as an editorial article, but at the bottom of the page there was a banner promoting Ladbrokes offers, as well as a “Comments” section in which readers shared their stories of winning when placing bets.
The UK advertising industry watchdog also challenged whether the ad made clear its commercial intent.
The Authority investigated the ad and found that it breached CAP Code rules 16.1, 16.3, 16.3.3, 16.4.3. on the first issue, 2.1, 2.3 and 2.4 on the second one. Eventually, it upheld both issues, saying that regardless of the fact that the ad had been produced by an affiliate of Ladbrokes, the commercial intent of the article was not immediately clear.
The Advertising Standards Authority also investigated two issues related to a similar problem in terms of Sky Vegas. Both of them were upheld.
As explained by the complainant, they saw an editorial article on April 29th, which included a Sky Vegas banner at the bottom of the page. According to them, the ad was irresponsible because of the statements made in what seemed as an editorial article.
The Advertising Standards Authority, on the other hand, challenged the ad for failing to make its commercial intent clear to potential customers.
After a response of the company and an investigation held by the ASA, the watchdog found that the ad breached CAP Code rules 16.1, 16.3, 16.3.3 and 16.3.4 on the first issue, as well as rules 2.1 and 2.3 on the second one. It also reminded Sky Vegas that in spite of the fact that the fake news had been produced by an affiliate of the company, it is the operator who is responsible for the ad as it was the beneficiary of the campaign.
888 UK Ltd
According to the summary of Council decision, two issues were investigated in terms of 888 UK Ltd’s ad, both of which were upheld by the Authority.
Five complaints were received by the Advertising Standards Authority, with the individuals who filed the complaints explaining that they had seen an advertorial for 888 Casino on March 21st. As in the afore-mentioned cases, the ad had the appearance of an editorial article, promoting the 888 Casino by using a banner situated at the bottom of the page. The same advert was also seen on another website on July 6th.
After an investigation was held by the Authority, the watchdog upheld both issues under CAP Code rules 16.1, 16.3, 16.3.3, 16.3.4 (Gambling), 2.1 and 2.3 (Recognition of marketing Communications). The ASA warned 888 UK Ltd, saying it the operator need to make sure that its adverts are not irresponsible and that their commercial intent is immediately seen by potential customers.
Malta-based online casino operator Casumo also got scolded for using fake news as native ads to attract potential customers. Two isues were investigated and both of them were upheld by the Authority.
The complainant challenged an ad for Casumo seen on March 21st, which featured a “Comments” section as well as a banner for Casumo at the bottom of the page, calling it irresponsible. On the other hand, the ASA further claimed that the ad failed to make its commercial intent absolutely clear to customers.
The UK advertising industry watchdog investigated the issues and found that the ad breached CAP Code rules for Gambling (16.1, 16.3, 16.3.3 and 16.4) and Recognition of marketing communications (2.1 and 2.3). It reminded Casumo that the operator remains responsible for the ad’s content despite it had not produced it itself and warned it to make sure that the commercial intent of its adverts needs to be clearly stated.
All of the above-mentioned gambling operators were warned by the Advertising Standards Authority that the controversial ads must no longer appear in their current forms.
The UK advertising industry watchdog reminded Ladbrokes, Sky Vegas, 888 UK Ltd and Casumo that their future ads, including the ones produced by their affiliates, must make absolutely clear to customers that they are intended for commercial goals, so they must be clearly identifiable as marketing communications. Operators were also called for preparing their ads in a socially responsible way.