A website, media.888.com, featured a promotional game called "Wild Gambler", which enabled the user to try the game by playing it in demo mode using free spins, before playing with real money. The game stated "YOU HAVE £50 IN YOUR DEMO BALANCE ON THE WILD GAMBLER DEMO MODE TRY YOUR LUCK". Players were then invited to "SPIN" and play the fruit machine style game. When a line of symbols was matched, text stated "YOU WON £XX ON DEMO MODE Try your luck and win huge jackpots FOR REAL!" and offered the options "WIN REAL MONEY" and "NO (KEEP SPINNING)".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because he maintained that, in demo mode, every other spin gave a substantial win, but did not believe that that was the case when users played with real money.
Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a 888games said the Wild Gambler game was one of a series of casino games available on their website and was designed in the style of a slot machine. They explained that consumers played the game by wagering sums over one or multiple 'lines' in a 'spin' and the game's results were determined by a complex computing system, which had, at its core, a random number generator (RNG). They stated that the results generated were therefore random, but were governed by a sophisticated algorithm that was designed to obtain a win percentage across all consumers and not on an individual player-by-player basis. They said the RNG was regularly tested and monitored, in line with the relevant regulatory requirements. They added that that information was available to consumers and said the terms and conditions also contained their fair play policy, which explained how their games operated and how often consumers won when playing them.
The said the free play game was a very basic game designed to give consumers a sense of the look and feel of the Wild Gambler game itself. They said it was not governed by an RNG or any complex algorithms, but operated in a very simple way: players simply 'won' on every other spin. It was not intended to replicate the Wild Gambler game, nor was it held as being representative of the results of the Wild Gambler game. They added that the Free Play Game was playable without having to be logged into their site and it was not possible for players simply to click away and change from playing for free to playing for real money.
The ASA acknowledged that the demo version of Wild Gambler showed a win after every other spin, whereas the promotional game itself was unlikely to result in a win 50% of the time for most players. We understood that the demo version presented players with an example of how the game looked and worked, including showing players what they needed to achieve for a win, namely one row showing all the same symbols after a spin. We considered that players would understand that the demo version was illustrative of the game's look and demonstrated how to play and win, but considered that some players would also infer that it replicated the likelihood of achieving a win in the real promotional game, for example, frequently or within a small number of spins.
Because we did not consider that it was sufficiently clear that the demo mode was provided as an example of the promotional game's visuals only, and did not also represent the likelihood of winning or losing, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.
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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told the advertisers to make clear whether the demo version represented the likelihood of winning.