Gaming operator Lottoland has rejected an Advertising Standards Board finding against an ad showing a man hiding from his family under a table while he gambled on a Lottoland app and warned the ASB it will not allow it to use the ad as an example of a breach of regulations.
Lottoland has reluctantly agreed to stop airing a controversial ad
The gaming giant said it did not accept the ASB’s ruling but would amend the ad “out of respect for the process”.
But in agreeing to amend the ad, Lottoland warned it would not allow the ASB to use the breach as an example to others.
It is understood to be the first time an advertiser has expressly demanded the ASB not use its ads in any presentations or other material highlight breaches of the code.
“Finally, we do not agree to a licence to the ASB to copy, reproduce or use our advertisements for the purpose of achieving the objects of the ASB or any other purpose,” Lottoland said.
Receipt of this response is not to be taken or deemed to be the grant of such a licence.
The ad was one of three which were the subject of complaints to the ASB which showed people using the app in family situations.
Critics writing to the ASB said the ads showed gambling addiction, with people unwilling to put down their phones and stop using the app.
“We disagree with the determination, however, out of respect for the process we will discontinue Ad 3 (under the table) for commercial reasons, this should not be considered an acceptance of the decision,” the company told the ASAB when it learned of the determination.
It also complained at having just seven days to submit a response to the complaint.
“The ASB Case Managers have given us seven days to provide a comprehensive response off the back of that. I find the process adopted in our case to be both extraordinary and unfair,” Lottoland said.
While the ASB dismissed complaints about ads featuring a grandmother who is surreptitiously using her phone to look at the app while urging other family members not to, it said the ad featuring a man hiding under a table went too far.
A number of complaints to the ASB said the ads appeared to celebrate addiction to gambling.
“The ads that I have the most issue with are encouraging hiding the fact that the person has a gambling addiction. Hiding the gambling from family and blatantly lying about it,” one complaint said.
“I understand it’s a bit of ‘tongue and cheek’ but a young child doesn’t necessarily know that and it promotes the normalization of gambling in the family home and the fact that it is so easy to do,” another complainant said.
The company rejected the complaints saying the series of ads were a play on how people used their phones.
“The reason given by the complainant appears to be that one or more of the individuals in the advertisements is ‘hiding their addiction to gambling/betting,” it said in response.
“In our view, this reason is not supportable when the advertisements are properly considered as a whole. The play of the advertisements is on how attached people are to their phones.”
However the ASB rejected the defence.
“The majority of the Board considered that the third version of the advertisement depicts wagering (in this instance using a mobile phone to access a wagering website while hiding from family members) as having priority in a person’s life and therefore portrays excessive participation in wagering activities,” it concluded.