'Misleading' foreign lottery website ad banned


An ad for a foreign lottery website has been banned for failing to make it clear that gamblers were betting on the outcome of the game rather than participating in it or that prizes were subject to US taxes.

LottoGo.com, formerly World Lottery Club, advertised entry to the US Mega Millions lottery in July, stating "Mega Millions £256 Million", and further: "Mega Millions has an opening jackpot of $15 million with no cap. It makes the world's biggest lottery winners!"

A complainant said the ad was misleading because the prize amounts stated were subject to US taxes and other deductions, while the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it did not make it clear that LottoGo was offering the opportunity to bet on the outcome of the lottery rather than participate in it.

Annexio, trading as LottoGo, said it was industry practice to advertise potential prize amounts pre-tax, and it was not possible for them to know the tax status of their players, who were resident in a range of jurisdictions.

They said the ad made clear that tax and other deductions may be made from the winnings.

It said the website made clear to consumers that they were betting on the outcome of lotteries rather than entering them.

The ASA said terms on the website said the pay-out could be lower than stated if it were taken as a lump sum, and might be further reduced to copy how US taxes might reduce winnings from the actual lottery, but said this needed to be included prominently where prize fund amounts were quoted.

It also found the overall impression was that consumers were being offered the opportunity to play the Mega Millions lottery, among others, even though the site was offering consumers the opportunity to bet on the outcome via a gambling operator.

The ASA said: "Because consumers were unlikely to understand from the ad as a whole that they were being offered the opportunity to bet on the outcome of a lottery via a gambling operator, rather than participate in the lottery itself, we concluded that the ad was misleading."

It added: "We told LottoGo.com to make clear, as soon as prize funds were quoted, the extent to which winnings may be subjected to deductions.

"Furthermore, they must make clear that consumers were not being offered the opportunity to participate in a lottery, but to bet on its outcome."

In a separate ruling, the ASA found that a website promoting charity scratchcards broke rules by being of particular appeal to children.

Rieves Lotteries scratchcard (ASA/PA)
Rieves Lotteries scratchcard (ASA/PA)

Rieves.co.uk featured images of several scratchcards showing cartoon-like images of a bee wearing a crown and ruffle, snowmen, a pig and a fairy which resembled a leprechaun standing next to a rainbow.

Rieves said it was not in their interest to target the young or vulnerable and believed their games did not have particular appeal to children.

Banning the ads, the ASA said: "We considered that the bright, colourful designs in the ads and cartoon-like imagery were likely to appeal to children."

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