Online Casinos Face Crackdown for Exploiting Players’ Superstitions | Gambling
Online casinos are facing a crackdown on exploiting gamblers’ superstitions, after the advertising regulator launched an investigation into a firm’s claims that certain games are ‘hot or cold’.
The Guardian understands that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is likely to uphold a complaint filed seven months ago against PlayOJO, which last year announced a feature that offered players a “one-time chance to view games on winning streaks.
“Toggle between HOT or COLD to reveal the MOST and LESS profitable games of the hour, updated every 5 minutes,” the website told players.
The online casino, which is licensed by the Gambling Commission and owned by Maltese company Skill On Net Limited, suggested they could either play “hot” games to see if they kept paying out, or try ” change luck” on games. who weren’t.
The PlayOJO website page that included the promotional material was unavailable at the time of publication, but could be found through cached versions. The feature was also promoted via a TV commercial in which a tarot card reader gave advice to a female customer while secretly using the PlayOJO mobile phone app to inform her predictions.
Although the ASA has yet to make a final decision, a draft of its recommendation seen by the Guardian says it will uphold a complaint that the promotion of the feature was “misleading” and “irresponsible”.
The decision, if upheld, will affect whether companies can exploit the “gamer fallacy”, the misconception that previous results have an effect on what happens next. An example of this is the mistaken belief that a roulette ball is more likely to land on a number because it hasn’t in a while.
The ASA’s draft ruling warned that PlayOJO’s marketing contained elements suggesting players could exercise control over the outcomes of gambling, including the urge to “choose your fate”.
Bookmakers have previously come under fire for announcing ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ numbers on fixed-odds betting terminals, the controversial digital roulette machines whose stakes have been reduced from £100 to £2 after an outcry over their relationship to addiction.
However, the ASA’s draft ruling against PlayOJO is believed to be the first time a regulator has specifically targeted the feature, with potential implications for the wider gaming industry.
PlayOJO said it was not asked to remove the page from its website offering the “hot” or “cold” feature and did not do so. However, he said he was “refining some marketing materials” and had “consequently removed these pages from our site, to address specific concerns”, and would replace them soon. He added that the ASA can still agree that the marketing did not violate the advertising code.
An ASA spokesperson said it did not comment on individual cases.
A spokesperson for the Betting & Gaming Council, a lobby group of which Skill On Net is a member, said he could not comment on individual cases.