The UK is likely just days away from presenting its first major gambling law update in almost two decades. In the meantime, the Advertising Standards Authority is weighing in, allegedly squashing marketing campaigns that target gamblers’ superstitions.
Gamblers are traditionally a superstitious group. In the UK, a survey years ago found that around 80% of participants held some type of superstition belief tied to their gambling activity. While there’s no science to support the notion that a rabbit’s foot or a lucky charm will improve the odds, most people still cling tightly to their amulets.
Gaming operators, from time to time, will produce marketing that calls upon those superstitions. However, The Guardian reports that this practice is not acceptable. It states that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is starting to take action against operators that, in any form, allude to being able to alter the outcome of gambling activity.
PlayOJO Becomes Unlucky Target
The ASA is likely going to hold PlayOJO accountable for playing to gamblers’ superstitions, according to The Guardian. Last year, someone lodged a complaint against the gaming operator, accusing it of advertising a “unique chance to see the games on winning streaks.”
In other words, PlayOJO hinted that games were hot or cold at any given time. As a result, the operator stated on its website that it would update the hot and cold games every five minutes so players could rush to those that were on fire.
Gamblers could then, according to the operator, head to the “hot” games – those that were paying out. Or, they could play the “cold” games in an attempt to break the losing streak and turn the game into a winner.
PlayOJO has since removed the marketing message, which was also part of another campaign. PlayOJO ran a TV spot that featured a fortune teller reading tarot cards and giving predictions to a gambler. The ASA isn’t happy with that marketing message, either.
ASA Ready to Intervene
The Guardian asserts that it has seen a copy of a draft message the ASA is preparing to send to PlayOJO. The message will uphold the complaint from last year, calling the operator’s actions “misleading” and “irresponsible.”
It isn’t clear what action the ASA might take against PlayOJO as a result of its findings. It accuses the operator of giving the appearance that gamblers’ decisions could affect whether a game lands on a win or not. That suggests that next, it might try to ban the film Guys and Dolls from airing, so no one can get the idea that blowing on dice in craps produces good luck.
This isn’t the first time superstition has taken center stage in the context of gambling regulations. There was an issue years ago in the UK with fixed-odd betting terminal operators promoting the idea that there were hot and cold machines.
However, the ASA’s response to the PlayOJO campaign is reportedly the first time an operator has been singled out for the practice. As a result, if the agency moves forward with its assault, it could impact the UK’s entire gaming industry.
Regulators are pushing for a “vanilla” gaming industry devoid of any type of entertainment. In doing so, licensed operators will be fearful of virtually any type of advertising. This, in turn, will lead to black market gaming activity increasing, a belief already presented by gaming operators.
This defeats the purpose of regulators’ efforts to increase responsible gaming. However, there’s a chance, according to PlayOJO, that the ASA may not take any action. If it doesn’t, perhaps legal operators will still be able to offer an enjoyable experience.
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