An email for the online casino Pink Casino, seen on 28 July 2017. The subject line of the email stated “100% Losses Back + Free Scratchcard”. Further down the email was an offer for a “Deal or No Deal” scratchcard game. Beneath the scratchcard game’s logo, text stated “One Free Game! Don’t forget to also claim your free Deal or No Deal scratchcard! No deposit required, just opt in with code DEAL and start scratching!**”. The asterisks led to text at the bottom of the email that stated “Offer only available to those in receipt of this email. Opt in with code DEAL before 23:59 Sunday 30th July. Free scratchcard will be awarded as £1 bonus with 10x wagering requirement”.
The complainant, who said they opted in to the promotion but then had their cash winnings from elsewhere on the website taken as part of the scratch card’s wagering requirements, challenged whether the claim that the game was “free” was misleading.
Intellectual Property & Software Ltd t/a Pink Casino said because of the way their wallet mechanism worked, the bonus £1 that would be used to play the scratch card was paid into a bonus balance. They said that when customers participated in a bonus offer, cash was always taken from the consumer’s cash balance first, before the money in the bonus balance. In addition, while the bonus was “active” any cash wagered on the site would be applied to the 10x wagering requirement. Whether a customer had an existing cash balance or not, the wagering requirements would have to be met before any funds from the bonus could be withdrawn.
Pink Casino said the existence of a cash balance had no impact on the expected value of the bonus claimed and that there was no pre-requisite to deposit funds or any other pre-qualifying criteria other than to enter the online code “DEAL” to claim the bonus. They said that the vast majority of their customers would not have a cash balance.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the ad that they were entitled to a free game, with no cost involved in taking advantage of the offer.
We noted, however, that during the “active” bonus period, any cash staked on the website went towards the 10x wagering requirement. If the wagering requirement was not met then money from the cash balance would be taken by Pink Casino. Therefore, some consumers would lose money by taking part in the promotion. In addition, consumers were not able to access their free £1 bonus while they still had their own money in their cash balance. We considered that would mean that consumers who had money in their account when they signed up to the bonus would, at least in some cases, lose money as a consequence of playing the game.
We therefore concluded that the claim that the game was “free” was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Pink Casino not to claim that their promotions were “free” if there was a cost involved in taking advantage of the offer.