Betting on outcomes of lotteries – a warning to others

In a move forecast by David Clifton in his October 2016 SBC News article, the Gambling Commission has followed up an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) determination against a betting operator with its own investigation, resulting in that operator – Lottoland – being required to pay £150,000 to socially responsible causes, pay the Commission’s costs and agree to a public statement outlining its failings for wider industry learning purposes. That public statement can be downloaded below.

By way of background, on 1 February 2017 the ASA upheld a complaint about a radio advertisement broadcast on behalf of Lottoland; the complainant challenged whether the advertisement misleadingly implied that Lottoland were offering the opportunity to take part in a lottery as opposed to offering bets on the outcome of that lottery.

The Commission’s investigation found that Lottoland:

  • did not make it clear to consumers that they were betting on the outcome of a lottery draw and not actually taking part in a lottery, and
  • failed to make it clear in its third party marketing, website and social media promotions that consumers were betting and not participating in a lottery.

Lotteries are different from other gambling products as a portion of proceeds must go to good causes. It is therefore important that consumers are made aware of the type of gambling in which they are participating. In the public statement, the Gambling Commission advises betting operators offering betting on the outcomes of lotteries to consider the following questions to avoid making the same mistakes as Lottoland:

  • Have you ensured advertising and marketing makes it clear to consumers that they are placing a bet and not participating in a lottery? The Commission recommends that you read its advice – Betting on lotteries and lottery themed gaming products: being clear to consumers.
  • Have you ensured marketing communications include significant limitations and qualifications which consumers should be aware of?
  • Have you ensured marketing communications are compliant with LCCP provisions and CAP and BCAP rules?
  • Have you used the free and paid for copy advice service provided by the ASA and CAP?
  • Have you ensured contractual terms and conditions with affiliates are robust?
  • Have you ensured that affiliates are clear of their requirements regarding advertising standards and the consequences of compliance failings?
  • Are you conducting regular audits of your affiliates’ activity against your compliance policy?
  • Are you auditing new affiliates’ websites, in addition to the creative and copy used, before accepting them onto your affiliate programme?

Richard Watson, Gambling Commission Programme Director for Enforcement and Intelligence, said: “In this case the operator used ambiguous terminology in their marketing and advertising, which was misleading. That is not acceptable and the £150,000 penalty package reflects the seriousness of Lottoland’s failures. We expect all operators will learn the lessons from this case and take action to ensure that their consumers are clear about what they are being offered.”

All gambling marketing and advertising should comply with requirements set out in its Licence conditions and codes of practice, the UK Advertising Codes and the Guidance on the rules for gambling advertisements.