Crackdown on British Gambling Ads – Watchdogs Uphold Complaint Against 888 UK

| November 12, 2021 12:30 pm PDT
  • Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules against 777.com.
  • The advertisement in question was judged to be misleading.
  • Watchdogs pushing for tighter restrictions in betting-related advertising.

Betting site 777.com is the latest entity to be taken to task in the current clampdown on gambling advertising in Britain.

The company — which acts as a subsidiary of the better-known 888.com — was deemed to have produced an ad that was ambiguous and misleading.

The advertisement in question read “77 Free Spins ENABLED FOR ANOTHER.” A complaint lodged by consumers argued that it was ultimately confusing, given that the free spins did not disappear when the timer stopped.

Watchdogs Side With Customers

There were two further complaints about the advertisement that came under scrutiny.

One was that the ad claimed that “casinos are trying to shut down a free Android app.” The other is related to a dubious claim that “everyday people, like Simona Moron, can win huge progressive jackpots using nothing but free spins.”

In its defense, 777.com responded to the complaints by directly approaching the Advertising Standards Authority to explain what had gone wrong.

According to the company, a third-party affiliate was responsible for the production and distribution of the commercial material unbeknownst to operators at the site.

The ASA ruled that, as beneficiaries of revenue related to the ad, the burden of responsibility landed with 777.com.

The decision will put everyone, including the most reputable online gambling sites in the UK, on high alert.

Advertisements Must Be Transparent and Easy to Understand

Ambiguity is something that the ASA is looking to completely out from gambling-related advertising in Britain.

As with the 777.com ad, which has been banned from circulation, the terms and conditions of promotional offers must be clear and basic. In no way should there be any gray area where things such as free spins or other bonuses are concerned.

In its ruling, the ASA made the following statement.

“We told 888 UK Ltd t/a 777.com to ensure that they held adequate evidence to substantiate claims made in ads for 777, even when placed by affiliate marketers.

We also reminded them that they must ensure that future advertising for 777 did not misleadingly imply that offers were time-limited, for example, by using a countdown clock, if that was not the case.”

The agency refused to impose any further punishments on the company.

In 2017, 888.com was fined a record $10 million for failing to protect vulnerable customers from accessing its main and sister sites.

According to Britain’s Gambling Commission, a system glitch was responsible for upwards of seven thousand players accessing the site despite having opted for self-exclusion.

Has the Playing Field Changed in the UK?

Earlier this year, a group of influential members of the UK Parliament proposed a complete ban on gambling advertisement.

In addition to these measures, some are looking for a complete overhaul of the 2005 Gambling Act introduced by the Labour Party in 2005.

Included in plans is a blanket ban on online gambling ads as well as on TV. There are also proposals to end VIP schemes and to appoint a new ombudsman to settle disputes between companies and consumers.

Additionally, it appears that UK sports teams sponsored by betting sites could be outlawed as soon as next year.

Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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