UK Watchdog Upholds Foxy Games Ad Complaint, Rejects Another Against Betfair Casino

  • Foxy Games ad appeared following “make money online” searches on Google
  • Betfair Casino ad said “when there’s a chance, there’s always a chance”
  • Viewer of Google search ad said it hinted at possible financial security from gambling
  • Foxy Games operator ElectraWorks acknowledged error and has taken down content
  • Betfair Casino opposed complaint that its ad promoted irresponsible gambling, ASA in agreement
complaints screen on tablet
The UK Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint concerning a Foxy Games gambling ad but rejected another against Betfair Casino. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

ASA delivers its rulings

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK has upheld a complaint concerning a Foxy Games Google search advert and rejected a similar complaint lodged against Betfair Casino. The UK watchdog announced its rulings on October 6.

The Foxy Games advert in question was being displayed following Google searches for “make money online”. It would appear with the title “Earn Money Online – Foxy Games – Play Online”.

The Betfair Casino advert was aired on television in July 2020. It showed a man rushing to get onto a plane in an airport and another passenger who appeared calm while using the Betfair Casino app on his cellphone. The voiceover said: “The average time between the final call and boarding closing is four minutes and 53 seconds… an unofficial fact officially brought to you by Betfair Casino. Because when there’s a chance, there’s always a chance.” The man then boarded the plane while still playing on the app.

Foxy Games sending the wrong message

A viewer of the Foxy Games Google search ad addressed a complaint to the ASA, claiming that the title suggested the possibility of financial security by playing the slots and bingo games on offer.

suggested the possibility of financial security by playing the slots and bingo games

The ASA detailed how the Foxy Games ad was in violation of the Committee of Advertising Practice Code 16.3.4. The code states that adverts cannot suggest gambling as an answer to financial concerns, a way to get financial security, or an alternative option to employment.

ElectraWorks Limited, a subsidiary of GVC Holdings and the operator of the Foxy Games brand, was ordered to remove the ad and to ensure that all its other promotions did not present similar issues. The company acknowledged that the advert breached marketing guidelines and explained that its appearance in this particular search result was due to human error. It has since taken action to pull down the offensive ad. 

Betfair Casino rushes to ad’s defense

The ASA’s ruling in the Betfair Casino case said the complainant was under the impression that the ad portrayed gambling as “taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments.” This was because the man was supposedly gambling in what was a time-pressured situation of boarding a flight after a final call.

In response to the complaint made, Betfair Casino said the ad was not irresponsible. It added that ClearCast, an ad clearance service in the UK, had given its approval.

The company insisted that the man featured in the ad was not prioritizing gambling over anything. He was aware of his surroundings and did not appear to be traveling with any family or friends. He also did not appear anxious or in a hurry to get to the boarding gate as a result of his online gambling activity.

ClearCast seconded the casino company’s stance, saying there was no way that the advert could be deemed socially irresponsible. The ASA ruled in agreement with the defendants, concluding that the character in the ad was not distracted by gambling. No further action has been taken on the issue.

Cracking down on gambling ad breaches

There has been a recent push in the UK to rein in errant gambling advertising, with particular focus placed on the protection of minors.

In August, the ASA released its findings of a three-month online monitoring sweep of adverts that should be age restricted. Of the 159 flagged ads, 70 came from gambling operators. Similar sweeps are set to take place on a quarterly basis over the next year.

Speaking about the findings, ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “The ASA is using technology to proactively monitor online ads to help build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on websites aimed at children.”