Whilst the majority of bingo-lovers go through life happy, and in search of a full house and a bit of banter with their fellow players, sometimes the world of bingo leaves a sour taste in our mouths. Last week, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) upheld a complaint from an unhappy customer who had contacted the Authority about an allegedly misleading TV ad promoting Vernons Bingo.
During the majority of the advert, "vernonsbingo.com/tv £30 FREE!" was displayed at the bottom of the screen, while of the ad’s actors told viewers that “if you join now, they’ll give you £30 free to get you going,” followed by another on-screen message stating “Freeplay, Ts&Cs apply.” At the end of the advert, a voice-over added, “Now at Vernons Bingo, deposit £10, and get £30 absolutely free,” accompanied by a message reading “Bonus cash out conditions apply.”
While most of us are familiar with seeing these kinds of offers in magazines, TV commercials, and online, if we don’t head straight over to investigate the offer, we don’t always see things from a new player’s perspective. So when the complainant took a closer look, they contacted the ASA to challenge whether the advert was misleading as a) it was not clear that the £30 free bonus could not be claimed until the player had spent their £10 deposit, and b) it was not stated that the £30 bonus carried a four times wagering requirement before any winnings could be claimed.
In their defence, Vernons Bingo (previously known as Littlewoods Bingo) told the Authority that the £10 deposit didn’t necessarily have to be exhausted, and that many players actually found themselves in profit after placing an initial bet. However, the player would be unable to use the automatically-allocated free bonus until they had wagered a total of £10. They also said that said that wagering requirements were an industry standard, and that these were referred to in the ad under both “Ts&Cs apply” and “Bonus Cashout conditions apply”.
Unfortunately for Vernons, the ASA decided that consumers might not understand that the £10 deposit must be wagered before they could claim their £30 bonus, and that some new players might lack knowledge about cash-out restrictions. They ruled that the ad must not be broadcast again in its current state, and that both the complainant’s points should be clearly covered in future advertising campaigns.
Have any of our readers ever fallen foul of misleading bingo advertising? If so, what did you do about it?