The Commission for advertising failings has issued their first financial penalty, after punishing Guernsey-based BGO Entertainment £300,000. The commission stated it had levied the fine for nine misleading advertisements by BGO on their website, between July 2015 and July 2016, alongside 14 ads on affiliates' websites, from February until October 2016.
Gambling Operators to Avoid Misleading Advertisement
Since May 2015, the commission's Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice have required all licensed gambling operators to avoid misleading consumers about promotions. Basically, what is means is that all online gaming companies must clearly state what a “Free Bet”, “Bonus” or similar deals are, and what consumers have to do in order to qualify for such offers and promotions.
The commission asked entertainment companies and agencies to make sure their ads met the standards of the new rules. Unfortunately, BGO was one of several companies that was identified for not complying, as the company's advertisements did not outline appropriately what conditions there were regarding their promotions. Consequently, the commission deemed these advertisements "potentially misleading to consumers".
While BGO reassured the commission their company would take action, the watchdog said it continued to find confirmation that advertisements on BGO's website and on affiliates' sites were potentially misleading.
Concerns First Raised in July 2015
Paul Hope, programme director at the Gambling Commission, said concerns were first raised with BGO about their advertising in July 2015, with the investigation focusing on misleading advertisements for promotions. “We want to make sure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly. So, we have made it clear to the industry that misleading advertising is a serious issue. We have powers to tackle it, including the power to impose financial penalties such as this.”
“According to the comission, BGO did not take timely and effective action to address the misleading advertisement.”
The commission said that BGO “did not take timely and effective action to address the misleading advertisement” and that it provided inaccurate assurances that the issues had been fully addressed”. Mr Hope added: “We want operators to take note that the issues identified in the decision notice are likely to form the basis for future compliance assessments and could lead to enforcement action.”
BGO Warned by the Advertising Standards Authority
The Gambling Commission has worked closely with the Advertising Standards Authority aiming to raise standards in the gambling industry. They have warned all stakeholders to read the decision notice, which refers to the importance of advertising rules, guidelines, codes and standards.
The Advertising Standards Authority has complained earlier about one of BGO Entertainment’s advertising campaigns, asking them not to run a broadcast advert again in its current form, as well as to avoid making adverts that could suggest that gambling is a way to reach financial security.