ASA Ruling on Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd

United Kingdom

On 18 September 2019, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) upheld a complaint against Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd (“Coral”) regarding an advert shown on TV. The ASA ruled that the advert was in breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (the “BCAP Code”) because it encouraged individuals to gamble regularly.

The advert

The advert featured two people playing a game of chess. A voiceover states “don’t be silly. Bet Savvy. Join Coral’s bet and get club and get a free £5 bet every Sunday. The smart money’s on Coral.” At the same time as the voiceover, large text appeared on-screen stating “BET + GET CLUB. FREE £5 BET EVERY SUNDAY WHEN YOU BET £25+ MONDAY TO SATURDAY.”

The complainant believed the advert encouraged people to gamble on a regular basis (i.e. weekly) in order for them to take advantage of the promotion – which the complainant argued was irresponsible and potentially harmful.

Coral responded by saying that the ‘bet and get club’ promotion was an opt-in promotion – customers did not have to place bets every week and they could opt-out at any time. Coral added that there was no requirement for large bets or multiple bets. Furthermore, Coral argued that the promotion did not encourage regular gambling because they had ensured that there was always a gap between placing the qualifying bets and the ability to redeem the £5 free bet.

The decision

The ASA upheld the complaint and stated that the advert breached rule 17.3.1 of the BCAP Code which states that “adverts must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.” BCAP’s Advertising Guidance on ‘Gambling Advertising: responsibility and problem gambling’ also states that “marketers should take care to avoid trivialising gambling and avoid the impression that the decision to gamble should be taken lightly, for example by not encouraging repetitive participation.”

Coral’s points were acknowledged by the ASA, namely that the ‘bet and get club’ promotion did not require customers to bet every day or every week. However, the ASA considered use of the words “join” and “club” and the phrase “free £5 every Sunday” was likely to entice customers to gamble regularly to take up the offer repeatedly.

Therefore, the ASA ruled that the advert was in breach of rule 17.3.1 of the BCAP Code and said the advert can no longer appear in its current form. The ASA urged Coral to ensure their promotions do not encourage repetitive participation in gambling.

The full ruling can be found at this link: https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/coral-interactive-gibraltar-ltd-A19-1022795.html

Article co-authored by Rahul Gandhi.