Campaign beats bookies 7-2 in advertising row

Posted on September 25, 2013 by admin
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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today rejected seven out of nine complaints made by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) about advertisements run by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling around the time of the Corby by-election in November 2012.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling advertised in regional newspaper the Northamptonshire Telegraph, which is read by constituents and potential voters. It brought to their attention the subject of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), their addictive roulette content and the social and financial implications of gambling addiction.

The advertisement also encouraged voters to ask their by-election candidates for their stance on FOBTs and problem gambling. The advertisement drew complaints from the ABB on a number of points relating to the addictive nature of FOBTs, the ability to stake £100 every 20 seconds and a faster speed of play compared to casinos.

Of the nine points raised, the ASA has determined that seven of these claims were not misleading and that the Campaign provided relevant substantiation of the assertions in the advertisement.

Commenting on the decision, Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “Although frustrating to have our advertisements reported to the ASA in the first place, we are very pleased that the majority of our claims have been investigated and proved to be not misleading by an official body.

“FOBTs, the most addictive form of gambling, were first allowed based on deceptions by the betting sector. It’s time for Government to disregard the claims of the ABB and their allies and pay attention to our substantiated claims. The ASA has demonstrated its competency down to the very last digit – which means our seven substantiated claims should be heeded and acted upon now. Naturally we are disappointed that two of the complaints raised were upheld, even though aspects of each of those claims were not disputed, but the ruling does demonstrate the rigour with which the ASA carried out its investigation.

“The most important outcome of the ASA ruling is that it clearly shows that we have been able to substantiate that FOBT roulette is not as fair to the gambler as the traditional casino table game roulette. This is because the FOBT plays up to several times faster, meaning FOBT gamblers lose several times faster than casino roulette gamblers at the same stakes.”

References: Issues investigated by the ASA, two of which were Upheld and seven of which were Not upheld 

Decided in favour of the Campaign:

1. “£65 million will be staked on betting shop roulette machines in Corby in 2013”;

2. “They are addictive and should be restricted”;

3. “YOU CAN STAKE £100 EVERY 20 SECONDS ON BETTING SHOP ROULETTE MACHINES … Many gamblers are gambling on roulette machines without understanding this”;

5. “Local public services including hospitals, welfare, housing, benefits, police and judicial systems can all be impacted to deal with activities resulting from problem gambling.  Without roulette machine addiction there could be better provision of those services for everybody”;

6. the claim that “FOBT roulette takes your money more quickly” than gambling at a casino roulette table;

7. “The current delay between wagering on spins is only 20 seconds.  Increasing this to 60 seconds will make the game content less addictive”;

8. “The pace of these games on FOBTs is far faster than in the real casinos, so players think they are getting the same fair deal but will lose far faster on FOBTs”


Decided in favour of the ABB:

4. That the estimated cost of problem gambling to Corby per year for 100 addicts would be £0.8 million

In point four, the Campaign’s claim was deemed misleading because the economic cost of £8,000 per problem gambler was based on US rather than UK statistics. At present there is no UK equivalent of this research, which is evidence of how poorly researched and funded the issue of problem gambling is in the UK, under the present system. It should be noted that the ASA accepted that it was NOT unrealistic to claim that there are at least 100 FOBT problem gamblers in Corby.

9. “By 2013 there will be over 34,000 FOBTs, with each machine sucking an average of around £50,000 per year out of its local community”

In point nine the Campaign had stated that there would be “over 34,000” FOBTs by 2013 as oppose to “around 34,000”. The actual figure was 33,984 by March 2013, but the stringency of the ASA ruling deemed that over 34,000 was unproven – even though it was short by just 16. The Campaign expects the amount of FOBTs to be over 34,000 by the next date of published statistics. It should be noted that the ASA accepted that it was reasonable to estimate that each FOBT would suck an average of around £50,000 out of the local community in 2013.