Advertising Standards Agency slate Prime Table Games

Company should have identified itself in anti-betting shop terminal campaign

Prime Table Games, a casino games commercial entity, has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for not identifying itself in launching an advertising campaign attacking betting shop terminals.

The gaming company said in defence of its actions that it would not benefit commercially from the campaign, an argument rejected by the ASA on grounds that it might derive benefit from the advertising activity and because consumers have a right to know who is behind the messages they are exposed to, which could be misleading.

The company's advert in a magazine called for readers to "terminate the terminals," a reference to the fixed-odds betting machines in betting shops. The company's rationale for this was that betting terminals gave inferior odds compared to casino games such as those that the company offered, and that the fast gaming style of the machines lent itself to problem gambling.

"Prime Table considered that terminals were more accessible to vulnerable people than other forms of gambling, such as casino gambling," the ASA report reads, pointing out that the company had claimed to have conducted its own research by playing terminals and watching and talking to other players.

The firm had concluded from this research that the table game content on the terminals, along with the sort of player typically found playing them, had the potential to generate problem gambling. However, the firm did not submit a copy of their research report.

Furthermore, the advertisement alleged that betting shop terminals "flout" Gambling Act requirements for socially responsible gambling, and claimed that such terminals were wholly unfair when compared to their casino equivalents because "the probability that players lose all their available cash on a session is higher".

These statements implying factual accuracy needed to be backed by firm evidence, said the ASA report, and Prime Table had not done so. This primarily anecdotal claim therefore created a potential to mislead.

Prime Table's claim that terminals offered poorer odds than casino games and were therefore unfair was also rejected by the ASA.

"We considered, however, that poorer odds did not equate to unfair gambling and concluded that the description of fixed odds betting terminals as wholly unfair when compared to their casino equivalents was inaccurate and misleading," the ASA adjudicator observed.

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