An online ad launched by the popular online casino Casumo was recently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The reason for this was that the ad was targeting potential problem gamblers.
According to the UK watchdog, the ad offering free spins to new players appeared in the search results of people looking to stop gambling. Namely, one user launched a specific complaint back in May 2019, which caused the ASA to take action. As per this complaint, the advert offering freespins appeared in the Google search results for “How to unsubscribe from all gambling”.
Specifically, the listing was among the paid-for ads that you see appearing above the results generated organically. And the title of the advert in question was “Welcome bonus to new players Casumo 100% and 20 freespins”. Furthermore, as is often the case, it went on to encourage people to create accounts and start playing.
However, the online casino was quick to take the ad down as soon as the ASA requested it. And it proceeded to explain that it couldn’t possibly foresee every Google search term combination in order to prevent this situation.
The way targeting with Google ads works includes keywords. An algorithm determines when a certain ad should appear on the basis of the word or words present in a search request. But the opposite principle of exclusion also applies for the targeting process. And as per Casumo’s explanation, the casino had not thought it necessary to exclude the word “unsubscribe”. The reasoning was that they saw this term as pertaining to opting out of mailing lists, marketing emails and the like.
Despite Casumo’s defense, though, the UK regulator was rather firm in delivering its verdict. And it stated that the gambling platform had failed to target its online ad responsibly. In fact, the ASA considered there to be a “strong possibility” for problem gamblers to come across the advert. And more worryingly, this could occur exactly as they try to limit their exposure to gambling sites in general.
Not A First Offense Either
As it turns out, this wouldn’t be the first time for the online casino operator to be in ethical violation. Just last year the UK Gambling Commission forced Casumo to pay millions in penalties for similar issues. Namely, the site had proved to systematically fail in protecting problem gamblers. And among other rather serious breaches, there was also that of the inability to prevent money laundering.
One very specific case, for instance, had to do with blatantly ignoring vivid symptoms of a player’s gambling addiction. Allegedly, the casino induced one of its clients to bet and consequently lose some £125,000. And while this instance is only at the level of accusations, other transgressions were duly proven and brought on repercussions.
One such very serious violation was offering gambling services to citizens of the Netherlands, which happened earlier this year. And this ended up costing Casumo a hefty fine of €310,000 to the Dutch gambling authority Kansspelautoriteit (KSA).