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Casumo Offered Free Spins to Players Googling Ways to Block Themselves from Gambling
- October 14, 2019 By Oliver Young -
An ad was banned since it targeted problem gamblers to continue playing by offering free spins. The ad was paid by Casumo, an online casino operator against which players have made complaints just a few months ago.
Casumo targeted players who were Googling and trying to find ways to block themselves from gambling. Instead, these gamblers were being offered free spins to continue gambling.
Casumo Targets Gamblers Once Again
The online casino operator Casumo was obliged to retract and block an ad that offered free spins to people who were Googling how to block themselves from gambling. The ad, paid by Casumo, the Malta-based operator, appeared to the complainant, while the player was searching “How to unsubscribe from all kinds of gambling”. The case was reported to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) immediately.
According to the complainant, the ad was headed “Welcome Bonus to all new Casumo players of 100% match and 20 free spins”. It was an inviting ad, encouraging people to create an account and play right away. It was an ad that appeared above organically generated search results, meaning it was a paid-for ad.
And this is not the first time Casumo has done such a sneaky thing. There were reports previously of the operator publishing news articles through affiliate sites with adverbs inviting players to gamble. Moreover, the operator has already had to pay penalties of £5.85 million for failing to protect problem gamblers. It paid £14 million over failings to prevent money laundering, too and ignoring a gambling addict’s signs of addiction, which were rather obvious.
But still, when the ASA asked the developer about the ad in question, Casumo told them that it had systems in place to stop these ads appearing when certain keywords and search terms were used, with the same purpose of avoiding fuelling problem gambling. However, the operator admitted that “unsubscribe” was not included in that system to stop ads, since it felt it was associated with players wanting to be removed from marketing and mailing lists, instead of trying to bar themselves from gambling.
And even though Casumo immediately removed the ad as soon as ASA approached it, the operator told the UK Gambling Commission that it could not anticipate every keyword, search term, every variation of them on Google and ensure players were not shown its ads.
ASA said that they acknowledged that upon the complaint, the ad was immediately removed by Casumo and the action was taken to address where their adverts were appearing. But ASA also concluded that the ad has not been responsibly targeted since a gambler was served a gambling ad following a request, a search on Google on “how to unsubscribe from all kinds of gambling”.
The rules are clear: all operators must be responsible for marketing and must put players in the first place. Players must be protected, problem gamblers detected and blocked from gambling on time. Operators must assist problem gamblers in excluding themselves from gambling activities, not help them go into gambling deeper and deeper. Since Casumo failed to do that, despite its defence of not being able to predict all keywords, was found guilty of targeting.
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