ASA bans PlayOJO “Hot or Cold” ads

| By Laura Gumbrell
The UK Advertising Standards Authority has sanctioned SkillonNetfor the use of 'misleading' text in ads for its PlayOJO brand introducing a “Hot or Cold” feature.

The three complaints were made across a webpage, a blog post and a TV ad which were launched in September 2021. In all three ads, there was a focus on a new “Hot or Cold” feature, which identified which games had paid out recently and which had not done so.

“How great would it be to see which games are currently paying out and which ones aren’t, just like you could at an actual Casino? Well now you can. You’ll see the most and least profitable games of the moment and when their last big win was, based on real game-play activity, and updated every 5 minutes. You can switch between hot or cold to see which games are the most and least profitable,” the website ad said.

However, two complainants raised issues over the phrasing of the text.

The ASA branded the ads “misleading and implying that the Hot or Cold feature could predict or influence future success; and could irresponsibly lead to financial, social or emotional harm”

One complainant also challenged whether the ads “irresponsibly exploited cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck” in the use of a tarot card reader in the TV advert, which had been approved by clearing service Clearcast.

SkillOnNet responded saying that the “Hot and Cold” feature on their website simply informed players about how much money had been recently paid out on various online slots and casino games and which games had not paid out for a while.

They said that “information was based on algorithms updated every five minutes using real-time and accurate gameplay data” and added that the function was designed to replicate a physical casino at the roulette table, where the house would show the recent history of play, “to help players so inclined, to make a decision on what to bet on next.”

Clearcast also commented, saying that “the average viewer would clearly understand the use of Tarot in the ads in the context of the fortune teller cheating by using the PlayOJO app to check the Hot or Cold feature”.

It added that the ad also made it clear that having received the fortune teller’s ‘wisdom’, the player in the ad had to decide for himself how he wished to proceed.

In an assessment, the ASA deemed the complaints about the feature being irresponsible “the feature gave an indication of recent performance of the games, but did not have any bearing on what the games were likely to pay out in future.”

“The ads gave erroneous perceptions of the extent of a player’s control over a bet by using that feature, they could encourage gambling that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm and therefore also breached the [CAP] code on that basis,” the ASA said.

However, the third complaint over the TV ad was not upheld, with the ASA deeming that the use of the tarot reader did not exploit cultural tradition.

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