A direct mailing promoted an online casino. The letter was headed "Use Our Money to Win over £1,000,000" and further text stated "Now it's your chance to play your favourite slot, roulette, blackjack or video poker game at Luxury Casino, using a free money gift! There's absolutely no risk to your funds - just free money to spend in the casino as you wish". Text at the bottom of the page stated "Peel the seal NOW to reveal your free money gift! ... £1,000 FREE Your unique Bonus Code is: [xxxx-xxxx] *Terms and conditions apply".
The complainant, who when attempting to claim his "£1,000 free gift", discovered that a deposit was required to take advantage of the offer, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Apollo Entertainment Ltd t/a Luxury Casino said the ad would not be used again in its current form.
The ASA welcomed Luxury Casino's willingness to amend the ad. However, we noted that the letter stated "Use Our Money to win ...", "free money gift!" and "There's absolutely no risk to your funds - just free money to spend in the casino as you wish". We considered that most consumers reading those claims would believe that if they signed up for the offer they would receive a free bonus to be wagered on a variety of games, which they could access without depositing any of their own money. We understood, however, that the offer was in fact a "Match Bonus" offer, and therefore, to access the bonus funds, a consumer had to make five deposits, and a particular decreasing percentage of each would be awarded as bonus funds. We also understood that those bonus funds were subject to wagering requirements. Whilst we noted that the letter included text at the bottom of the page stating "Terms and conditions apply", there was no further text explaining how the bonus offer worked or setting out the significant terms and conditions which applied to the offer. For those reasons we considered that the nature of the offer was not clear and concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules),
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Luxury Casino to ensure they made clear the nature of their offers in future and stated any significant terms and conditions which applied. We also told them to make sure they did not state or imply that a bonus would be awarded without the need for a consumer to deposit any of their own money, if that was not the case.