Upheld: ASA Ruling on Jumpman Gaming Ltd t/a Lights Camera Bingo

United Kingdom

On 12 July 2023, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) issued a ruling against online bingo site, Lights Camera Bingo (www.lightscamerabingo.com) for promoting an advert that was considered to encourage harmful gambling behaviour.

The Ad

The ad consisted of a camera symbol and the words “Hey! Come Back” opening in another tab when consumers left the Lights Camera Bingo website.

As part of the ruling, the ASA assessed whether the ad was irresponsible and encouraged harmful gambling behaviour.

The Ruling

Jumpman Gaming Ltd t/a “Lights Camera Bingo” argued that the tab message replaced the name of the website, which would usually be displayed in the tab, stating that there was no difference between the two. Lights Camera Bingo responded to the complaint with the following points:

  • 5% of their customers accessed the website on a desktop device and would interpret the message as a simple browser feature. Mobile users would only see the message if they used the Safari (not Chrome) web browser on an iPhone.
  • The purpose behind the ad was to alert customers that they had not closed the website. Therefore, if customers left the tab open, the ad would continuously pop up.
  • There were no incentives or rewards for the customer if they clicked on the ad and returned to the website.
  • There was nothing within the message that could be interpreted as exploiting the susceptibilities of any customer.
  • Lights Camera Bingo considered that their messaging services (e-mails and text messages) were not any more enticing than the ads they saw from other gaming operators.
  • Lights Camera Bingo had frequently sought tailored advice from the CAP Copy Advice Service (however, had not done so for this specific ad, as they did not consider it necessary).
  • Lights Camera Bingo took reasonable measures in conjunction with licensing conditions to avoid advertising to vulnerable customers, but agreed to remove the message from their platforms.

The CAP Code provides that gambling ads must (i) be socially responsible, (ii) not encourage irresponsible gambling behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm and (iii) not exploit the susceptibilities of vulnerable people. 

Whilst the ad featuring the “Hey! Come Back!” message appeared in non-paid-for advertising space under Lights Camera Bingo’s control, the message was directly connected with the supply of Lights Camera Bingo’s playing service that alerted customers to return to the website once they had left it. The ASA therefore considered that it was a marketing communication that fell within the remit of the CAP Code. The ASA found:

  • The ad appeared when customers who had visited the Lights Camera Bingo website opened other tabs on their desktop browser. The ASA considered that people who opened new tabs had simply decided to leave the website whilst not closing the tab itself.
  • The “Hey Come Back!” message constantly flashed in the background while the tab was still open and only disappeared once a customer either closed the tab or went back onto the Lights Camera Bingo site. The ASA concluded that this would attract the customer’s attention.
  • The ASA considered whether the message may have been a reminder to close the original tab butfound that the message did not include any information about logging out or closing the tab and would therefore not be interpreted as such.
  • The ASA considered that, in the context of a gambling website, the message was likely to be interpreted as an encouragement to return to the website.
  • The ASA rejected the argument that the impact of the ad was less harmful because it only came up on desktop browsers or Safari on iPhone.

The ASA held that the ad encouraged customers to engage in gambling behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm, as well as exploited the susceptibilities of vulnerable people. As a result, the ad was deemed irresponsible and in breach of CAP Code rules on gambling advertising.

Next Steps

The emergence of rulings in respect of gambling ads (whether appearing in paid or non-paid-for advertising space) has provided a helpful insight into the ASA’s perception of what constitutes irresponsible advertising.  In this context, the flashing message was considered a call to action that could be understood to encourage customers to return to using the website, after they had already decided to pause or stop their bingo play. The ASA has made it clear that it expects gambling companies to not draw attention to their websites, including by the use of flashing imagery and tempting language. 

Co-authored by Rachel Opoku-Appiah and Eve Brady, trainee solicitors at CMS