The Advertising Standards Agency receives complaint after complaint about the content of advertisements both on television and in print, regarding online gaming. One of the latest adjudications settled was regarding the Cassava Enterprises Ltd Company trading at 888.com (parent company of 888 Bingo). The complaint in question was regarding a television advert broadcast in October last year and has resulted in the ad being axed.
The TV advert promoting 888.com’s online poker services showed a man sat at his computer switching on the webcam. The voiceover at this point stated ‘Turn your webcam on at 888 Poker and play face-to-face online. You never know who you might meet at a poker cam table’ and then continued to describe the welcome offer available from the site. The advert then showed a virtual poker table with screens sat around it, with other players on their webcams waving to the original man. The other virtual players included a group of three women and a woman in a bikini at the side of a pool. This advert received one complaint from a viewer who challenged that the ad was suggesting gambling was directly linked to seduction and sexual success.
In response to the complaint, 888.com, one of the leading providers of online gaming including poker and bingo, stated that they did not think there was anything in their advert which gave the message of sexual success, making the point that not all the actors in the advert were stereotypically attractive. They also noted that the advert was produced with extreme caution with clearance from external lawyers and Clearcast Advertising Services.
888.com also highlighted the timing of the advert, stating that the appearance of the woman in her bikini was not in conjunction with the voice over statement of ‘you never know who you might meet’ and this timing is something they considered central to their argument, as the words were more related to the images of the other players waving and greeting each other online. According to 888.com the woman at the poolside was purely to demonstrate that members can enjoy online poker wherever they may be including on holiday, as their site is unaffected by time zone change.
When speaking to Clearcast, their statement endorsed all that was said by 888.com and they also didn’t believe the advert linked gambling to sexual success or seduction. They stated that it showed a cross section of people playing poker in their various environments.
Despite the statements from 888.com and Clearcast, the ASA upheld the judgement and concluded that the advert had broken the BCAP code and therefore mustn’t be broadcast again.