The under-fire advert first appeared on the Demand 5 video-on-demand service, offering to refund customers’ first two weeks of play if they sign up online to play monthly by direct debit. The ad promised to pay for up to 40 lines played in each draw and refund as much as £160 to its customers.
The ASA took exception to the ad’s emphasis on the £160 refund since it requires a commitment of £320 to be eligible for the promotion. The ASA determined that this would be detrimental to consumers who might have otherwise spent just £40 on the lottery’s two weekly draws. The perception that the ad induced consumers to spend more than they otherwise would was the determining factor in the ASA’s decision.
“We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and condoned and encouraged gambling behavior that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm,” the watchdog said in its ruling.
“We told the Health Lottery to ensure that their ads in future did not encourage or condone gambling behavior that could lead to harm.”
For its part, the Health Lottery stated that its advert wasn’t intended to encourage consumers to spend more than they should, but to highlight the available refund for players who buy 40 entries per draw. The company also said that the ad was subjected to a “strict internal compliance and legal review”, even highlighting the placement of the “gambleaware.co.uk” logo on the advert as a reminder to its considers to exercise responsible gambling.
It likely doesn’t matter now that the ASA has come down with its verdict, reminding the Health Lottery that the ad cannot appear again in its current form and ensure that their future ads did not “encourage or condone gambling behavior that could lead to harm.”