The ASA-Protecting British Online Bingo Players

In the United Kingdom the Advertising Standards Authority has the final say about all television ads throughout the country. On their official website the ASA says that “The ASA is here to make sure all advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful.” But who exactly decides whether an ad is acceptable or not? According to the ASA website “The ASA Council is the jury that decides if advertisements breach the Advertising Codes. Led by the ASA Chairman, Lord Smith of Finsbury, the Council is made up of two panels – broadcast and non-broadcast – with some members sitting on both.” The ASA can be very strict and on more than one occasion an ad has been banned on the basis of a single complaint.

In the past several online bingo operators have run afoul of the ASA. A recent case involving online bingo giant Gala illustrates just how strict the ASA can be. An email sent to players by Gala read “We’re offering you a £10 bonus on your favourite Slot of all time! Simply deposit £10 using the code ALICEW and play Alice’s Wonderland^ to release your 100% bonus of up to £10 meaning more chances to win that mighty jackpot of over £100,000!*” A click-through link labelled “PLAY NOW” was provided. Footnote text stated “^ALICEW 100% Deposit Match Terms and Conditions apply.”

The complainant who understood the deposit requirements said the email was misleading because it claimed to offer a 100% bonus on a £10 deposit. Gala replied and said that the promotion offered to credit customers’ accounts with a bonus of up to £10 depending on the size of their first deposit and that the bonus would be released after the completion of a 5X wagering requirement. The complaint was upheld by the ASA The ASA said that the fly in the ointment was “players who received the e-mail would be able to participate in the promotion by depositing money directly into their Gala Bingo accounts, without ever being directed to the terms and conditions page.”

This case clearly illustrates just how strict the ASA can be. The agency keeps advertisers on their toes and goes to great lengths to protect the British public from deceitful and misleading advertising. Over the years several online bingo operators have had ads banned by the ASA for seemingly trivial reasons. Between the ASA and the Gambling Commission UK players are some of the best protected in the world.

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