Complaint about Health Lottery advert upheld over claims of ‘unrealistic’ jackpots

  • Facebook advert referred to jackpot prizes of up to £500,000 every week
  • Advertising Standards Agency found that the advert was misleading

The UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled against a Facebook advert by the Health Lottery, which claimed players could win up to £500,000 ($662,420).

The ASA has censured the Health Lottery for an advert over 'unrealistic' jackpot claims
The ASA has censured the Health Lottery for an advert over ‘unrealistic’ jackpot claims

The advert, which was placed by Health Lottery ELM Ltd, appeared in a Facebook post on January 22 this year. It stated that every one of its five weekly draws offered a jackpot of up to £100,000 ($132,484) and that up to £500,000 can be won every week.

A complaint was registered with the ASA on the grounds that the jackpot prize for the Health Lottery draw was usually much lower than the stated £100,000, and that the advert was therefore misleading. After a review, the ASA has upheld the complaint, ordering Health Lottery ELM Ltd not to display it again in its current form.

The Health Lottery is not connected to the UK’s National Lottery, but does give a percentage of ticket revenue to good causes.

Misleading

In its submission to the ASA, the Health Lottery said that it had been using the same claim since the lottery was founded in October 2011, and that it was not allowed to state a guaranteed top prize for any of its draws as the Gambling Act 2005 restricted society lotteries of this kind to a top prize of £25,000 ($33,121) or ten percent of the proceeds.

It also provided evidenced that since the lottery had been running, there had been 264 jackpot winners. Of that number, 61 per cent had won a jackpot of £100,000 or over and 71 per cent had scooped a prize of £50,000 ($66,242) or more.

The ASA accepted that the use of the phrase ‘up to’ made it clear that the amount stated would not always be available, but noted that there had not been a £100,000 winner since February 2015 when the company began to stage five draws per week. As a result, the ASA ruled that the claim in the advert no longer represented a realistic jackpot amount, and that as a result, it was in breach of the regulations.

The ASA also warned the company not to exaggerate likely jackpot winnings in future adverts.

What the Health Lottery said

The Health Lottery said that it felt the advert hit the right balance in the upper and lower jackpot limits. It also said that it has long campaigned for a more level playing field in lotteries in the UK to benefit consumers.

It gave a statement to Casinopedia on the ruling

“Since launch, we have invested significant time on the appropriate and transparent wording for advertising The Health Lottery jackpot and believed that “up to £100k” was a sensible balance between the potential highest jackpot prize – £400k – and the lowest – £25k – given the confines set by the Gambling Act 2005. We also believed that our further advertising message, which highlighted a potential total jackpot fund of up to £500k awarded each week, was simply informing consumers of the total prize pot available, given our 5 draws per week. These decisions have been shared with The Gambling Commission.
The Health Lottery has been lobbying government for several years to ease the restrictions on prizes which currently prevent society lotteries from offering competitive prizes to consumers in a free market. However, given the current restrictions, we note the ASA ruling and have made appropriate amendments to our future advertising.”
Health Lottery statement.

Richard Desmond, the billionaire owner of Northern & Shell which owns the Health Lottery brand, is also looking to oust Camelot from the UK National Lottery when it comes up for renewal in 2019.

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