A TV ad for NetBet online casino, seen on 9 July 2016. The ad featured a number of people doing everyday activities (such as walking along the street) or using the NetBet mobile app. They were then seen holding several shopping bags, holding money, sitting in a hot tub holding a pair of dice, walking towards a helicopter, driving a convertible car, or walking towards a yacht. These scenes were prefaced by an image of a slot machine display showing "777" and interspersed with on-screen text reading "JACKPOT" and an image of an aeroplane.
A viewer challenged whether the ad glamorised gambling by suggesting that it could considerably enhance the standard of living of those gambling.
Cosmo Gaming Company Ltd t/a NetBet stated that the ad did not, in their opinion, convey the idea that gambling could be a solution to financial problems or a way to achieve financial security. The characters were engaged in everyday activities (such as getting a taxi or working in their job) and the ad did not suggest that they may be facing financial problems. They acknowledged that, once the "777" screen had been shown, the characters were shown doing other activities (such as walking towards a helicopter or driving a convertible) and this was intended to suggest that, as a result of winning, they could afford to do something not previously affordable to them. NetBet said that in order to imply that gambling was an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security there should be a suggestion that the characters could permanently afford a better standard of living, such as living in more expensive houses or no longer needed employment. They noted that none of these suggestions featured in the ad.
NetBet said that at no point during the ad were the characters shown to gain enhanced personal qualities, self-esteem, recognition or admiration. One character was shown to be wearing better clothing and the others were engaged in new activities, with the same looks and clothing. They said that the characters were not shown receiving admiration by other people, or gaining control or superiority as a result of gambling.
NetBet observed that a certain aura of glamour had always been part of the gambling world, and that advertising for such services often showed characters in glamorous environments and engaged in expensive activities. They said this did not necessarily suggest that gambling could be a solution to financial concerns, a way to achieve financial security, or was capable of enhancing personal qualities and self-image.
Clearcast stated that the visuals in the ad were in line with hundreds of other commercials for gambling, bingo and lottery transmitted since the current BCAP Code rules around gambling came into force. Prior to approval of the ad, they had asked NetBet to provide examples of the types of prizes available to win on the website to ensure that the depictions in the ad were appropriate. They had been given information relating to six- and seven-figure winnings, and believed the visuals in the ad were acceptable in light of the size of the jackpots available.
Clearcast said the ad showed that, if you won whilst taking part in the type of gaming being advertised, it was possible to afford the elements featured. If someone won a substantial jackpot they would be able to afford expensive luxury items or be able to add to any existing savings and so be able to afford the experiences shown in the ad. They said the ad showed ordinary people whose lives were transformed by winning, as would happen in reality. There was no suggestion that gambling itself was a solution to financial problems or an alternative to employment. The characters were not shown as being in financial strife prior to winning, nor were they shown as being unhappy with their current job and using gambling as a way to get out of it. Clearcast said that the change in the characters' mood from mundane to happy was something they viewed as logical, and portrayed how players would react to winning. They noted there was nothing in the ad that showed any of the characters as having problems with their self-image, self-esteem or confidence prior to gambling. They were just shown as ordinary people getting on with their lives. After winning, there were no scenes showing other people reacting to the characters differently compared to before, so there was no change in the control, superiority, recognition or admiration that they held. Clearcast stated that the ad showed people enjoying their winnings, and believed this approach was reasonable in an ad of this type.
The ad showed the characters undertaking different activities after winning money through the advertised service. While we acknowledged that these activities represented things that winners might well be able to do with the amount of money on offer, we considered that this was presented as a distinct contrast with the characters' lives beforehand. It implied that their lives had changed as a result of the win, particularly with regard to the character whose taxi was replaced by a helicopter and the references to characters having use of a yacht, a private jet, or a convertible car. We considered that, with the exception of the shopping bags and the handful of money, the scenes depicted financial security as the result of gambling success because it implied that the characters now had sufficient funds available to undertake the luxury experiences shown in the ad, which in itself would entail a level of monetary security and lack of any serious financial problem.
The ad also depicted the characters as happier after winning money. While we acknowledged that many people might be happy as the result of winning a large amount of money, advertisers and broadcasters needed to take care to ensure that this did not imply a change in self-image. We considered that the depiction of the man in the hot tub implied a degree of pride and self-assurance that had not been evident in the shot of him before winning money. As such, the implication was that this attitude was caused by a gambling win. In light of the above factors, we considered that the ad glamorised gambling by suggesting that it could considerably improve the living standard (including financial security and self-image) of those using the NetBet service, and concluded that it was irresponsible.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.
(Social responsibility), and
suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security
and 17.3.6 17.3.6 suggest that gambling can enhance personal qualities; for example, that it can improve self-image or self-esteem, or is a way to gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Cosmo Gaming Company Ltd t/a Netbet to ensure that their future advertising did not glamorise gambling by suggesting that it could enhance personal qualities and living standards, particularly by offering financial security.