Posted on: October 27, 2022, 11:29h. 

Last updated on: October 27, 2022, 12:07h.

Lottoland, the operator that allows consumers to place bets on lottery draws around the world, continues to run into trouble for its operations. The latest problems come in the UK, where it has previously had run-ins with regulators.

Lottoland CEO Nigel Birrell
Lottoland CEO Nigel Birrell appears in a company PR photo. Lottoland faces trouble in the UK for using word games in ads to attract customers. (Image: Lottoland)

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has called out the company for offering deceptive ads. The watchdog specifically referred to several ads that appeared on search engines that made it appear to consumers that Lottoland was offering lottery products.

The three ads in question used wording that made it appear as though the company was directly involved with specific lottery operations. After receiving at least one complaint, the ASA intervened, although Lottoland refused to accept responsibility for its actions.

Lottoland Plays Word Games

The ads appeared on Google and Bing this past May. One of them enticed viewers by stating, in part, “Lottoland Irish Lottery – Only £2 Here.”

Another read, “Charity Combo for £2. Win-win charity Lotto + BRC Scratch 50% off. Support UK Charities Here.” The third stated, “Lottoland Lotto x5 – Just £1 – 5 chances to win £1 million,” and “CAN Your Lotto Do That? Lottoland Can.”

The language is misleading, at best. It reads as though consumers were able to purchase tickets for the Irish Lotto through Lottoland. Because the National Lottery raises money for charitable organizations, the ads also make it appear as though it’s contributing, as well.

In formalizing the complaint against Lottoland, the ASA acknowledged that the company had already agreed to alter its ads to ensure it was clear that it offers betting products. According to Lottoland, these three ads slipped through the cracks by no fault of its own.

Instead, the company says it relies on robot and AI marketing that requires no human intervention. These automatic solutions generated a “combination of random (and sometimes unrelated) words from various online sources.” The ads then made their way automatically to the online search engines without any human oversight.

In addition, Lottoland claimed that the use of “Irish Lottery” was generic and that no consumer would have assumed it referred to Irish Lotto. It added that no consumer would believe they were participating in any National Lottery product, despite the clear link.

ASA Doesn’t Buy Excuses

The ASA didn’t fall for the attempted justifications. It said in its ruling that the verbiage would have led anyone to believe they were participating in legitimate lottery draws. In addition, the lack of information indicating the fact that Lottoland was offering betting products was a violation of the rules.

The ASA’s response doesn’t come with a financial penalty. It only issued a warning that Lottoland needs to better police its marketing efforts.

This isn’t the first time that Lottoland has had to deal with the ASA for irregular ads. It has a history that dates back to 2017, but still develops ads that can be misleading.

The company has had a difficult time finding support. It has fought the UK and Australian governments over attempted bans, and Ireland’s Seanad wants to ban betting on lotteries as it updates its gambling laws.

In addition, the UK Gambling Commission ordered the company to pay a $1.04-million fine last year. That was a result of several anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings.

It also faces a ban in Germany. There, the incoming gaming regulator, the Joint Gaming Authority of the Länder, has ordered ISPs to block access to the company’s servers.