ASA RulingA new ruling made by the Advertising Standards Authority in relation to a complaint made against a Bingo Hero advertising promotion could be ringing alarm bells with the online bingo industry.  The ASA have upheld a complaint made against the online bingo site based in Cyprus in which the complainant claimed that an advert online offering ‘£15 FREE! No deposit required’ was misleading.  The advertisement is pretty standard stuff with many online bingo companies who offer free bingo ‘bonus money’ to new account holders, the money however is of ‘notional’ value and cannot be withdrawn on a win.

Not real bingo cash, play money

Bingo Hero for their part amended the text of their advert to read ‘£15 FREE! *Terms Apply*’, this however was not seen as enough for the Advertising Standards Authority who have concluded that the amendment has not gone far enough to make the position clear to those considering opening a new account.  Bingo Hero did clarify the position in the Terms and Conditions that any money that was won from playing the free bonus cash was not available to be withdrawn, and completely disagree that their bingo advert is misleading.

The implications for the industry are that those that offer, what amounts to nothing more than play money, will no longer be able to push the ‘free bingo money’ in their adverts without the risk of falling foul of the Advertising Standards Authority.  Most online bingo players are fully aware of the sites that offer free bonus money which is only designed to get a feel for the site, and those that genuinely offer free bingo money that can be played and withdrawn in the event of a win.  The confusion however may be with the new band of online bingo players who are being lured by advertising on television, and may not be aware of the ‘small print’.  Most reputable sites such as Tombola Bingo and Foxy Bingo offer some sort of bonus on first deposit, this is a ‘scratch my back and I will scratch yours’ kind of philosophy and will encourage new players to deposit and play, and should they be lucky enough to win will be able to withdraw their winnings.

Information will now need to be much clearer

It is important that all players read the small print as our previous articles in respect of bingo site Terms & Conditions have said, online bingo sites however will have to be a lot clearer now that a precedent has been set.  There is nothing wrong with clarity and is something that is long overdue with some online bingo sites, hopefully with this new ruling online bingo players will now know for sure whether they are playing for fun or playing for cash.  The full adjudication can be found on the ASA site.