A Maltese gaming company has been accused by the UK’s advertising regulator of having advertised to people trying to quit gambling.
Casumo was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) last May after a person who Googled “how to unsubscribe from all gambling” was targeted by one of its ads offering free spins and bonuses to new users.
The gaming company told the ASA it has systems in place to stop its adverts appearing for people who Google certain terms which indicate they are problem gamblers.
However, it said it hadn’t included ‘unsubscribe’ within those terms because it felt the word was associated with customers who wanted to be removed from mailing or marketing lists, not with people trying to quit gambling.
Nevertheless, as soon as it was notified about the complaint, Casumo made the search term inactive and reviewed its wider list of excluded search terms to ensure the system was more robust.
The company said it regularly reviews and changes its term exclusion list based on trends and advice from its compliance team and its Responsible Gaming Strategist so as to ensure its Google targeting was socially responsible.
The ASA upheld the complaint, noting that the UK’s advertising codes require marketing communications for gamblings to have particular regard to the need to protect vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited.
“We acknowledged that, on receipt of the complaint, Casumo had immediately taken action to address where their ads were served,” the ASA said. “However, because we considered there was a strong possibility that vulnerable consumers seeking to prevent exposure to gambling ads and access to gambling websites might have been served a gambling ad following a search for ‘how to unsubscribe from all gambling’, we concluded that the ad had not been responsibly targeted.”
“The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Casumo Services Ltd to ensure that their ads served following Google searches were responsibly targeted.”
Last year, the UK’s Gambling Commission forced Casumo to pay £5.85 million for failures in systems designed to protect problem gamblers.