Advertising by the National Lottery included references to ‘play’ such as
“Play in-store, in-app, or at lottery.ie” or
“Remember you can play EuroMillions and all your favourite National Lottery games online.”
All advertising included this statement “Play responsibly. Play for Fun” with an 18+ symbol.
Two complaints were received regarding the campaign.
Complainant 1 considered that gambling was described as play. He considered sport was play and that the lottery was gambling.
Complainant 2 stated that at the end of each advertisement there was a warning which stated ‘Please Play Responsibly’ and considered given the nature of the advertisements promoting the purchase of various lottery tickets and the tag line ‘It could be you!’, that the warning should more accurately suggest ‘Please Gamble Responsibly’. He considered that all the products touted in the advertisements were games of chance with easy-to- calculate odds as to the chances of winning and that this was gambling.
The advertisers said that at the National Lottery, they were always careful in the development of their advertising communications and take their reputation as a national advertiser very seriously. They said that it was never their intention to mislead and they always endeavoured to be clear in the presentation of all advertising messages.
They said the purpose of the Responsible Play message carried in their advertising campaigns was to communicate to Players that they should always play National Lottery games in a responsible manner and not beyond their means.
To address the complaint where the complainant suggested that the advertising line ‘Play Responsibly’ was misleading and should be replaced with ‘Please Gamble Responsibly’ because National Lottery games were only games of chance and that this was a gambling activity, the advertisers highlighted that The National Lottery’s primary purpose as set out in the National Lotteries Act, 2013 was to raise funds for Good Causes in Ireland. They said that in 2019 a total of €252m was raised for organisations, clubs and societies across the country and that approximately 30 cent in every euro was returned to communities across Ireland.
They said the National Lottery was regulated by the Office of the National Lottery Regulator (ORNL) and that, in addition to adhering to the general ASAI codes, the National Lottery had its own Participants and Advertising Codes of Practice which were regulatory codes and they must be approved by the Office of the National Lottery Regulator during an annual review process before any changes were made. They said that these codes formed part of the National Lottery license to which they operated and that copies could be found on their website - https://www.lottery.ie/about/codes-of-practice.
The advertisers said that the ASAI would be aware that the ASAI Gambling Code did not apply to marketing communications of the National Lottery, which instead were covered within the remit of the National Lotteries Act, 2013. They said the National Lottery Act, 2013 defined as follows: “lottery game” means any game, competition or other procedure, including those played by way of interactive channels on the internet, in which or whereby prizes (whether money prizes or otherwise) are distributed by lot or chance among persons participating in the game, competition or other procedure.
They said that their aim was to provide exciting and engaging National Lottery Games that bring fun and entertainment to everyone, raising funds for Good Causes, while ensuring that Participants play responsibly and within their means. They said that Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) had a strong commitment to preventing problem play and that they were committed to operating the National Lottery in a socially responsible way. They said that under the terms of the Licence to operate the National Lottery, PLI was required to operate the National Lottery in a manner that prevents problem play and that PLI was committed to implementing a player protection framework that reached all areas of the business, so that player protection was a key principle operating behind all business activities. They said that consistent with their policy statement on player protection, PLI’s ambition was to be a recognised leader in its approach to player protection and responsible play.
The advertisers said their player protection policy was consistent with the requirements of the World Lottery Association Responsible Gaming Framework and the European Lotteries Responsible Gaming Standard and as per the terms of their licence, they held the highest level of certification (level 4) for both of these standards and underwent continuous assessment audits on a yearly basis as part of the certification process.
They said that there were numerous ways they worked to ensure that National Lottery Games did not encourage excessive or underage play:
• All new National Lottery Games were subject to a “Responsible Gaming Assessment” to ensure that they were consistent with the requirements of Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) Responsible Gaming and Player Protection policies (which are approved by ORNL);
• All Game Rules specified that a Participant must be over 18 years. The terms and conditions, game rules and prize rules for all National Lottery Games also clearly specified that no prize will be paid to a minor;
• Once a National Lottery Game had been designed, PLI ensured that its advertising strategies did not target persons under 18 years of age or those on low income. It did not present winning in a way that was seen to be a way out of financial difficulties or as an alternative to work.
• All of PLI’s marketing communications were endorsed with the “Play Responsibly, Play for Fun” message as set out in their Advertising Code of Practice and agreed with the Office of the National Lottery Regulator.
• All National Lottery advertising complied with their Advertising Code of Practice and must also comply with the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, which was committed to promoting and enforcing the highest of standards;
• Commissioning regular Mystery Shopper campaigns across their network of retail agents;
• Inclusion of Play limits when playing via their online channel in accordance with the Licence;
• A programme of responsible play awareness training was provided for all employees. They also communicated on a regular basis with their retailers, highlighting the importance of responsible play, and provided responsible play training via their dedicated Retailer portal;
• The National Lottery website also offered practical guidance for Participants who were concerned that gaming might be playing too large a part in their lives or the life of someone close to them. A “Responsible Play” page was provided on their website and contained information about playing responsibly as well as highlighting resources available to vulnerable Participants. https://www.lottery.ie/useful-info/play-responsibly
• Including the promotion of Responsible Play as part of their Retailers’ contracts
The Executive asked the advertisers if had any further comments on the aspect of the complaints in relation to the usage of the words ‘play’ vs ‘gamble’. The advertisers said that had nothing further to add to the response and re-emphasised that all of PLI’s marketing communications were endorsed with the “Play Responsibly, Play for Fun” message, as required by their Advertising Code of Practice which had been agreed with the Office of the National Lottery Regulator.
The ASAI Executive searched a definition of gambling and noted an explanation included the following:
“to play a game for money or property” (1)
Complaints Not Upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response.
The Complaints Committee noted that the complainants objected to the references to ‘play’ and ‘play responsibly’ on the basis that they considered the activities being promoted were gambling.
The Committee noted that the inclusion of the “Play Responsibly, Play for Fun” message in National Lottery advertisements was a requirement of the National Lottery “Advertising and Promotion Code of Practice”, and had been agreed with the Office of the National Lottery Regulator.
The Committee noted that the word ‘play’ was recognised as a dictionary term in conjunction with engaging in gambling and considered whether consumers would be misled by the use of the word ‘play’ in the context of the advertising in question. Noting that the National Lottery had been in existence since the 1980s, the Committee considered that the public at large participating in a lotto draw would naturally use the term ‘play’ as an acceptable norm, without an ulterior connotation. Accordingly, they did not consider that the use of the phrase ‘play’ was likely to mislead under the Code.
No further action required