Swedish ad watchdog bans "misleading" Maria Casino ad

3 June 2020

The Reklamombudsmannen (RO), Sweden’s advertising ombudsman, has banned an ad for Kindred's Mario Casino after deeming the claim the brand is “Sweden’s most popular gaming site” to be misleading.

The advertisement in question was a 20-second television spot that appeared on the country’s Kanal 9. In the ad, characters discussed Maria Casino’s return-to-player rate, which they say has increased from 96% to 98%.

The ending of the ad - in which a voiceover and text on screen refers to Maria Casino as “Sweden’s most popular gaming site” - led to complaints, however. The complainant said there was no evidence for this claim and that, when they asked the operator’s customer service department, they were only presented with reviews on the Maria site as evidence.

According to Article 5 of the International Chamber of Commerce's rules for advertising and marketing communication (ICC rules), advertising must be valid and must not be misleading. Market communication must not contain representation in words that, directly or indirectly, through exaggeration, are intended to mislead the consumer. According to Article 6 of these rules, claims must be supported by factual evidence.

Spooniker, the Kindred subsidiary responsible for Maria Casino, argued that there was evidence to support the claim, however.

Spooniker pointed to a survey that took place from 1 January - 30 March, 2020, in which customer research company Nepa AB asked 1,660 customers who have gambled at some point in the last twelve months the question “If you were to play online casino games and/or slots today, which company would you play with?”

Maria Casino was the most popular answer in this survey, with 12.4% of respondents choosing the site. Mr Green followed with 6.3%, with ComeOn Group's Casinostugan in third at 3.4%.

However, the RO upheld the complaint. It determined that the survey was insufficient to prove that Maria Casino was Sweden’s most popular gaming site.

"Reklamombudsmanen finds that the advertiser 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,” it said. “Furthermore, RO states that the question asked in the customer survey is limited to online casinos, while the claim is more far-reaching than that.”