Health Lottery TV advert that 'encouraged gambling behaviour' is banned

The Advertising Standards Authority rules that the advert's 'upbeat tone' and focus on the maximum return of a direct-debit offer would encourage people to spend more than they normally would

Health Lottery
Health Lottery

An advertisement promoting the Health Lottery has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority because it "condoned and encouraged gambling behaviour".

The advert, which appeared on Channel 5’s video-on-demand service Demand 5, promoted an online direct-debit offer for the Health Lottery in which people could have two weeks’ worth of tickets for free if they signed up online and paid for their tickets monthly.

The advert said: "This August, save big money with the Health Lottery and our fantastic online direct-debit offer. Just sign up online to play monthly by direct debit and we'll refund your first two weeks' play."

Large text also appeared in the middle of the screen saying "TWO WEEKS FOR FREE!", with smaller text below saying: "PAID FOR BY THE HEALTH LOTTERY".

A voiceover said: "We’ll pay for up to 40 lines played each draw, giving you an incredible £160 money back on us. And you'll never miss another draw again."

According to the ASA’s adjudication, the Health Lottery said it had player protection measures in place to prevent direct-debit and online players from buying more than 40 tickets per draw.

There are two draws a week.

The Health Lottery said the cap, which it said was rarely seen in the gambling industry, ensured there could be no excessive play on the game.

It said that the advert was not intended to encourage excessive play, but to show that players who bought 40 tickets per draw were eligible for the refund.

But the ASA ruled that the advert should not appear again in its current form.

"We noted the Health Lottery's point that the ad was not intended to encourage excessive play, but to communicate the nature of the promotion and the maximum refund that could be achieved," the ruling says.

"However, we noted that the ad, through the voiceover and visuals, established an upbeat tone and focused on the maximum return. We considered that this emphasis on a £160 refund, which required a commitment of £320, was likely to encourage consumers who would not normally have spent £40 on twice-weekly draws to spend more than they otherwise would have done, to their detriment in some cases.

"We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and condoned and encouraged gambling behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm."

Read Third Sector’s analysis on gambling and charities here.

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