Online casino operator Casumo was forced to retract an ad that offered free spins and bonuses to those who Googled ways to stop themselves from gambling.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) filed a complaint about an ad, paid for by the Malta-based operator. Casumo was previously penalized and paid £5.85 million for failing to design a system that protects problem gamblers.
ASA also said that the complainant did a Google search on “how to unsubscribe from all gambling,” only to be greeted with an advert for a Casumo app.
The ad, in the paid-for listings that appear above organically created search results, had the caption “Welcome bonus to new players Casumo 100% and 20 free spins”
The ad also invited people to create an account and play.
According to Casumo, they told ASA they had systems in place to prevent its ads from appearing when certain search terms were used, to avoid encouraging problem gambling.
But the company said it did not include the word “unsubscribe” in those terms because they felt it was associated with customers who want to be unsubscribed from mailing lists or marketing, instead of trying to quit gambling.
Gambling companies are required to help problem gamblers in avoiding any betting activity.
GameStop, an industry-wide tool designed to help gambling addicts avoid gambling sites, has been plagued with problems and is still pending approval from the Gambling Commission.
Although Casumo removed the ad at ASA’s request, they told the regulator that they are unable to predict every variation of Google’s search terms to ensure that consumers won’t be exposed to their adverts.
ASA said, “We acknowledged that on receipt of the complaint, Casumo has immediately taken action to address where their ads were served.”
“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,” ASA added.
Casumo was one of three online casino operators fined £14m in penalties by the Gambling Commission last year, because of failure in its systems design in preventing money laundering and protecting problem gamblers.
The casino operator was also accused earlier this year of “ignoring” a gambling addict’s “obvious” signs of addition, after she spent £125,000 whilst receiving inducements to bet.