Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Section 16 of the CAP Code contains rules that apply to ads by gambling operators licensed in Great Britain that are likely to have the effect of promoting gambling, including ‘bingo’ products. More information regarding licences can be found on www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk.
Ads for bingo and other gambling products, should not suggest that playing will help players achieve financial security or be an alternative for employment (16.3.4).
In 2020 the ASA investigated an ad that featured the claim ‘Earn money online…Play online’. They considered the claim “Earn Money Online” suggested to consumers that the gambling system offered by the advertiser could be used to ‘earn’ money and therefore attain a regular source of income. Therefore, this had the effect of suggesting that gambling could be a way to achieve financial security. While the advertiser had already taken action and said this appeared in error, the ASA upheld the complaint (ElectraWorks Ltd t/a BWIN party, Party Poker, 07 October 2020).
Section 16 states that ads must not suggest gambling can enhance someone’s personal qualities such as improving self-esteem or self-image (rule 16.3.6).
The ASA investigated complaints about an ad that featured a celebrity drag queen. The social media post featured the caption “A good game can transform you! Don’t you just love that post-bingo glow”, along with “#winningfeeling” and “#feelinggood”. The ASA considered the ad created an impression that an individual could improve their self-esteem, as well as their self-image, by not just playing bingo related games, but also by winning them (Mecca Bingo Ltd, 15 November 2023).
Code rule 16.3.13 states that ads should not be targeted must not be directed at those under 18 years through the selection of media or context they appear.
An ad that was seen in a mobile app ‘Looney Tunes World of Mayhem’ was for Betfair Bingo and included the claim ‘Play arcade games!’. While users had to self-declare they were aged over 16, the ASA stated that the relevant age restriction was 18. Also ages could be misreported and devices commonly shared. Therefore the ads were likely to appeal to under-18s and the audience would also be likely to include under-18s, so the ad was considered to have breached the Code (PPB Entertainment Ltd t/a Betfair, 19 June 2019).