ASA rules against 888 over a “misleading” affiliate advert

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against the online gambling operator 888 Holdings in regards to a “misleading” advert posted on an affiliate marketing site.

This comes after the ASA recently ruled against ads from Napoleon Casinos and Ladbrokes regarding advertising standards.

888’s “misleading” ad

The ad in question promoted the 888 brand, 777.com, and advertised on the site Betterdeals.live. 

The advert claims that “casinos are trying to shut down a free Android app” that was “allowing everyday people, like Simona Moron, to win huge progressive jackpots using nothing but free spins.”

The ad also featured text stating “77 Free Spins (*T&C’s apply) ENABLED FOR ANOTHER,” which was accompanied by a three-minute countdown timer.

The complaint

The complainant challenged whether the countdown timer was misleading because they understood the free spins offer did not end when it reached zero. 

The ASA also challenged whether the claims that “Casinos are trying to shut down a free Android App” and “that’s allowing everyday people, like Simona Moron, to win huge progressive jackpots using nothing but free spins,” were misleading and could be substantiated.

In response to the complaint, the operator said that they had a policy in place with third-party publishers who created marketing materials for them, which prohibited them from using agencies to create ads that had not been provided by 777.com themselves.

The operator told the ASA that the third party publisher had used a creative which had not been designed or approved by 888, and had been posted without their knowledge or approval.

However, the operator claimed that they identified the ad themselves on 2 July 2021, and instructed the third-party publisher to remove it on the same day. In addition, the operator told the ASA they suspended all campaigns with the relevant publisher until further notice.

If 888 or 777.com plans to work with the publisher again, they would do so subject to a review and monitoring process of any potential campaigns’ promotional materials.

The ASA’s ruling

The ASA acknowledged 777.com’s comment that the ad was published by an affiliate marketer without their approval or knowledge and in breach of their agreement. Despite this, the advertising body considered that, as the beneficiaries of the marketing material, they were responsible for the ad and for responding to the ASA investigation.

In its ruling, the ASA said: “We considered that consumers would understand that the countdown timer would relate to a specific time limitation in which the ‘77 free spins’ promotion needed to be claimed, and that once it ran down to zero the offer would no longer be available.

“However, we understood that if the page was refreshed, the timer would reset to start counting down from three minutes again. Therefore, because the promotion was not time limited, we concluded the ad was misleading.”

The ASA also upheld the complaints regarding the specific wording of the adverts.

The ASA continued: “We considered that consumers would understand the claim “Casinos are trying to shut down a free Android App” as an indication that action had been taken by casinos to try and prevent the app from operating.

“We also considered that consumers would understand the claim “that’s allowing everyday people, like Simona Moron, to win huge progressive jackpots using nothing but free spins” as an indication that consumers had accrued sizeable winnings using only free spins.

“In the absence of such evidence, we concluded the ad was misleading.”

Therefore, the ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form and that future advertising for 777 did not misleadingly suggest that offers were available for a limited time if that was not the case.