Gala Bingo have faced warnings from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) after an affiliate posted an advertisement that indicated that gambling could be the solution to depression and debts.
The advert, posted on 365dailynews, was written in the style of an editorial piece and described a man who was facing £130,000 of debt after selling his house to pay for his wife’s medical bills. He “stumbled upon” a Facebook advert for Gala Bingo. The advert was written in the manner of a typical “clickbait” article, with the headline: “On their wedding night he delivered a secret she wasn’t ready for. The result will have you in tears.”
The ad said: “With little to no money to spend he admits he laughed and almost scrolled past it until he saw they were offering a promotion to that would reward him with 200 free chances at the Jackpot Giant game which at over £700,000.00 was too hard to pass up.”
A complaint was made about the ad, and the ASA challenged whether the advert was suggesting that gambling was a solution to problems with debt.
Gala Interactive, trading as Gala Bingo, said its agreement with the “affiliate” who created the ad had been terminated. The advertisement was quickly removed, and Gala stated that they had previously warned affiliates about advertising in a compliant method.
The ASA found that the advert was presenting information in the manner of a news article, and as such could be seen as deceptive. Despite the article being written by a sub-affiliate, the ASA noted that Gala Bingo was the company whose products were being advertised and that it was their website that consumers were directed to.
“Although we acknowledged that they maintained the ad had been produced by an affiliate, we nonetheless considered that, as the beneficiaries of the marketing material, they were responsible for the ad and for responding to the ASA investigation along with the affiliate marketer.”
It also said: “Because we considered that the ad suggested gambling could provide an escape from personal problems such as depression and that it could be a solution to financial concerns, we considered it to be socially irresponsible and was therefore in breach of the code.”
It ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form, and that each company’s “future ads, including those prepared by affiliates, must be clearly identifiable as marketing communications and to take care to ensure their ads were prepared in a socially responsible way.”
Sky Vegas, Ladbrokes and 888 were similarly warned last month about another dubious affiliate ad, leading Sky to cancel all of their affiliate deals and end the program.
Sources: The Independent, Totally Gaming, YouTube