ASA rules that ads with new "Hot" or "Cold" feature must be removed

United Kingdom

On 04 May 2022, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that Skill on Net Ltd (“Skill on Net”) must remove a number of ads for the ‘PlayOJO’ online casino.

Three issues were investigated by the ASA, with two being Upheld and one Not Upheld.

The Adverts

The investigation concerned a webpage, a blog post and three TV ads for an online casino named ‘PlayOJO’ seen in September 2021, which all introduced a new “Hot” or “Cold” feature:

  1. Webpage: A webpage on that included a banner stating “CHOOSE YOUR OWN DESTINY WITH OUR NEW HOT OR COLD FEATURE”, with associated text and flame and snowflake logos, indicating whether the games were considered “HOT” or “COLD” and “MOST” or “LEAST” profitable.
  2. Blog post: A post on titled “REVEAL GAMES ON WINNING STREAKS WITH OUR NEW ‘HOT OR COLD’ FEATURE”, with an embedded video and text stating that users could see “the most and least profiting games of the moment!”.
  3. 3 x TV ads: One longer and two shorter TV ads featuring a man looking at the PlayOJO website on his phone. He visits a tarot card reader, who discreetly explores the PlayOJO “Hot or Cold” feature on their phone with one hand, whilst revealing tarot cards with the other. The ad featured text at the bottom of the screen stating that “The Hot or Cold feature is no indicator of results or success. Please play responsibly. T&Cs apply” as well as the logo in the corner throughout. A voice over says “Choose your destiny”.

Two complainants alleged that the ads implied that the “Hot” or “Cold” feature (the “Feature”) could predict or influence future success and could lead to financial, social or emotional harm. An additional complainant challenged whether the ads exploited cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck.

The ASA Ruling

The ASA found the ads in breach of CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 16.1 and 16.3.1 (Gambling) and BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 17.3.1 (Gambling) on the basis that:

  1. The ads were considered to imply that the Feature may give players some control over a game of chance and influence future success, when that was not the case; and
  2. The incorrect perception created that players may have some control over their bet using the Feature could encourage gambling that was socially irresponsible or lead to financial, social or emotional harm.

The ASA ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form.

With regards to the complaint that ads for gambling must not exploit cultural beliefs or traditions, the ASA acknowledged that Tarot was a cultural tradition for some users. However, in practice the ASA considered the ads mocked the Tarot reader’s ability to foretell the future using Tarot and therefore the ads were deemed unlikely to have more influence over users who believed in Tarot than those who did not.