Online gambling operator Kindred Group’s advertisements for its female-focused Maria Casino brand have been found to be misleading by the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman.
In a ruling dated May 26, Sweden’s Reklamombudsmannen (RO) ad watchdog upheld a complaint filed against a 20-sec TV commercial for Kindred’s Maria Casino brand for claiming to be “Sweden’s most popular gaming site.”
The advertisement referenced Maria increasing its payout rate to players from 96% to 98%, which allegedly helped make the Maria site very popular. However, when the complainant probed Maria’s customer service as to the source of its ‘most popular’ claim, the representatives reportedly cited only “some reviews on their website.”
Kindred, in the response to the complaint, cited a survey of 1,660 customers carried out by researchers Nepa AB in the first three months of 2020 that indicated Maria leading all rivals in the choice of online casino websites with 12.4%, almost double the 6.3% of its closest rival and William Hill-owned Mr Green.
The RO countered this claim by stating Kindred “has not presented any evidence showing that the customer survey has been conducted in a way that means that the result can be considered reliable.” The RO additionally said that the survey question “is limited to online casinos” adding that the Maria brand’s popularity claim “is more far-reaching than that.”
The RO eventually concluded that the Maria ad was misleading and, therefore, breaches Article 5 of the International Chamber of Commerce’s rules for advertising and marketing communications.
That marked the second time that the RO has rapped Kindred’s knuckles over its ads claims. A few months ago, the RO found fault with an ad for Kindred’s flagship Unibet brand that purported its casino games’ returns to gamblers were the highest in the country. The RO ruled that the company had failed to provide solid evidence to this claim.
Sweden’s online gambling advertising sector has come under serious scrutiny since the regulated market’s introduction in January 2019.
Kindred was 17th on the list of Sweden’s leading advertisers in March, behind Cherry AB and the government-operated Svenska Spel among casino providers, though Kindred’s spending was down about two-thirds from the same month in 2019.
In January, the Swedish government announced it would carry out a a study of its gambling licensees’ advertising activity, having previously warned that it could choose to impose a “total or partial ban” on gambling ads. The survey was supposed to have been launched in March but has yet to be conducted.