The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a pair of complaints, but dismissed a third, against SkillOnNet for a webpage, blog post and three TV ads for online casino PlayOJO, that were seen in September 2021.
The first two of the five criticisms directly referred to a Hot or Cold feature, which looks to offer players the chance to see which games are on winning and losing streaks to allow them to decide which titles they wish to play based on how a title has paid out.
One complainant challenged whether the ads misleadingly implied that the feature could predict or influence future success; as well as if it could irresponsibly lead to financial, social or emotional harm.
Moreover, another individual challenged if three TV ads, which featured tarot, as well as the aforementioned feature, as a central theme, irresponsibly exploited cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck.
Responding, SkillOnNet stated that the feature was designed to inform players about how much money had been recently paid out on various online slots and casino games, as well as those that had not paid out for a while.
“They stated the feature allowed players to see the most and least profitable games and when their last big win was, based on real game play activity,” it is reported by the ASA.
“They explained that ‘profitability’ was defined as whether the game had recently paid out more or less than the amount of bets/stakes put into the game.”
It is also believed that the feature did not imply which titles were more likely to win, and that the ads were not irresponsible or misleading by suggesting the feature could predict or influence future success.
The company noted that a statement featured in the ads that players could choose their own destiny was balanced and referred to the ability for players to select which game they preferred depending on the type of player they were.
It is added that the group didn’t believe the ads suggested that choosing either ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ games would give them more success, instead that it “referred to whether players could change the luck of a ‘cold’ game, which they believed reinforced to players that luck was the essential element for success”.
Furthermore, SkillOnNet also highlighted that terms and conditions stated the feature was no indicator of results or success, nor does it infer that it would predict or influence future success.
In reference to the webpage and blog post, the ASA acknowledged that the feature gave an indication of recent performance, but said that it also “gave the impression that the Hot or Cold feature had some effect on a player’s chances of success”.
Regarding the trio of TV offerings, it is noted that on-screen text stated that the feature was no indicator of results or success, however the ASA considered that it was “insufficient to override the overall impression” that it offered players a sense of control over games of chance.
“Because the ads gave the impression that the Hot or Cold feature offered players some control over games of chance, when that was not the case, we considered that the ads misleadingly implied it could predict or influence future success,” the authority commented.
“We also considered that because the ads gave erroneous perceptions of the extent of a player’s control over a bet by using that feature, they could encourage gambling that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm and therefore also breached the Code on that basis.”
It was also concluded that the television ads in question did not exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck.
The ads must not appear again in their current form, with SkillOnNet told to ensure that future ads do not misleadingly imply that using the Hot or Cold feature can predict or influence future success and do not encourage gambling that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.