A TV ad for Betfred, seen 20 January 2019, featured a woman in the bath, a man preparing a meal and a woman exercising all while playing online bingo on mobile devices. The voice-over stated, “Love to chill in the bath? Make it a thrill and a laugh with Betfred bingo. Forget those two little ducks, soak up the action and win big bucks. You can even join in whilst making the tea with games from as little as just 1p. Play with Betfred bingo and enjoy top promotions such as daily free bingo games, bonus back and more. Put the fun back into house. Kick back and bingo with Betfred”.
The complainant, who believed that showing characters gambling while carrying out everyday activities normalised gambling, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.
Petfre (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a Betfred said that the ad did not suggest that people should play bingo excessively or that it should take priority over any other social interaction. They said the ad did not promote high-stakes gambling, nor did it present any unrealistic positive or negative emotions which insinuated harm. Betfred said there was no suggestion the people featured spent an excessive amount of time or money gambling. They said gambling was not shown as the sole activity being undertaken at home and therefore that it would not be perceived as taking priority over daily life. Instead, they were featured enjoying playing bingo as part of their leisure time, participating in bingo while undertaking activities that people would participate in independently during their day-to-day life. Betfred said that while bingo was featured in a range of activities, the ad did not imply it was important to be able to gamble during them all. Rather, it was a depiction of varied leisure activities of different audiences and demographics, and was not one person gambling throughout a range of daily activities.
Betfred did not believe that gambling was portrayed as: indispensable; that being something that was so good that people could not live without it; or that people’s enjoyment of life is altered by it. They said the act of gambling in the ad didn’t enhance or detract from the players’ enjoyment of their chosen activity.
Betfred said they did not show characters who were isolated from family, friends, work or education and they did not believe they insinuated that participation in bingo was favourable over social time.
Betfred said they did not portray gambling as a taboo or forbidden act which people should be ashamed of or hide, given that could insinuate vulnerability or control issues with the player featured. They said the ad promoted the community aspect of their bingo by showing chat names for each character and social interaction within the chatroom itself.
Clearcast said the three people seen in the ad were shown gambling once and on separate occasions, which ensured the same person was not seen gambling multiple times in different scenarios. They also said the stakes shown were small and that free games were mentioned alongside “games from as little as 1p”.
Clearcast did not believe that gambling in the ad was shown as indispensable. They said the ad’s voice-over did not state that you must gamble whilst doing other things, but showed how people could also fit bingo into their daily activities. They said the characters were shown gambling while taking part in everyday activities, but that no one was shown in a situation where they were ignoring family, friends or professional or educational commitments. They did not believe the Code precluded people being seen gambling by themselves whilst undertaking relaxing activities or going to the gym, if they were not shown gambling excessively.
The BCAP Code stated that marketing communications for gambling must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm. It also stated that marketing communications for gambling must not portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life, for example over family, friends or professional or educational commitments.
The ASA considered the ad focused on how people could gamble using Betfred bingo while also undertaking tasks or leisure activities around the house. The characters taking a bath and exercising were shown playing bingo in conjunction with doing those tasks, rather than instead of them. Gambling was therefore not portrayed as taking priority over those tasks or as indispensable. During the section showing the character preparing a meal, he was seen throwing food in the air when he realised he had won a prize. While we considered the character’s exaggerated reaction to winning showed he was briefly distracted from his task, again we did not consider that this scene portrayed gambling as taking priority in life.
We concluded that the ad did not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, or portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 17.3.1 17.3.1 portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm and 17.3.4 17.3.4 portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments (Gambling) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.