rehab bingo forced to change name to rosy bingo

Are Bingo Brand Names Appropriate and Compatible With Advertising Laws?

Last year The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Rehab Bingo should change its name, declaring that the association between bingo and rehab is an unacceptable one in the modern age.

Owned by Broadway Gaming, the site would come up as an option when ‘rehabbingo’ was searched for on Google thanks to a paid advert that encouraged people to ‘Join Official Rehab Bingo Now’. The ASA felt that the site was in breach of a number of their Committee of Advertising Practices, not least of all encouraging irresponsible gambling behaviour.

Broadway Gaming did point out that the site was actually set up in 2005 by the Rehab Group charity, with money raised going to the charity that offered help and social care to socially disadvantaged individuals, but they also acknowledged that the name could be misconstrued.

Rather than kicking up a fuss about Broadway Group instead chose to rebrand the site as Rosy Bingo. Whilst it’s understandable that Broadway Group might choose to opt to rename the site, it does beg the question as to whether or not other sites are appropriately named in this day and age.

ASA Forces Rehab Bingo Name Change

broadway gamingThe Advertising Standards Authority regulators launched an investigation into the site of Rehab Bingo after challenges were made over its name and the presence of a paid for advert on Google that came up if you typed in ‘rehabbingo’. The advert told users that they should ‘Join Official Rehab Bingo Now’, which was seen as problematic by the ASA.

The Authority said that it needed to decide on whether the name might suggest that people could find an escape from their own personal problems by using the site. There was also the suggestion that it condoned ‘socially irresponsible gambling behaviour’.

rehab bingoThe ASA accepted Broadway Gaming’s explanation that the site’s name came from the original site set up by the Rehab Group, but still felt that using the word ‘rehab’, especially in a gambling context, was a socially irresponsible thing to do.

It was felt that the name ‘condoned socially irresponsible gambling behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm’. This was because gamblers are ‘susceptible to addiction’, meaning that the use of the name Rehab Bingo and the advert in the form it was used in were both deemed to be in breach of the Committees of Advertising Practice’s rules.

What Rehab Bingo Did

rosy bingoRehab Bingo gave a percentage of all of the funds that the site raised to the Rehab Group. The Rehab Group is a charity that provides numerous services to the most vulnerable and socially disadvantaged.

They offer social and health care as well as training, rehabilitation and employment to adults, those with disabilities and children. It was obviously an extremely worthy cause for Broadway Gaming to be involved in courtesy of the Rehab Bingo site, but the name of the site itself was obviously always going to be a controversial one in this day and age.

The money raised went towards funding research, administration and governance costs as well as advocacy where possible. It was also used to pay for projects for residential and day patients under the care of the Rehab Group, plus respite services for disabled people.

Even so, it was decided that Rehab Bingo was in breach of CAP Code rules 16.1, 16.3.1 and 16.3.3. Broadway Gaming said that they were willing to change the name of the site if that was what the ASA felt would be best, so the ASA said that changing the name and ensuring that the advert was not to appear again in the same form would be acceptable responses, hence the company’s decisions to change to Rosy Bingo.

Have They Been Victims Of Circumstance?

asa ruling on rehab bingo

The need for gambling reform has been an ever-present piece in the news for some time. The change to the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals was just one small alteration to an industry that many feel has been allowed to go unchecked for too long.

Since the Gambling Act was introduced by New Labour in 2005, the face of gambling in the UK has changed almost beyond recognition. The government attempted to introduce a free-market based system at the same time as ensuring tough regulation, which just hasn’t quite worked as it was supposed to.

The result has been years worth of campaigning from those that fear for the state of the gambling industry, including Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson. Have Broadway Gaming been a victim of that environment? After all, the site in its current form launched in 2014 and yet it wasn’t until 2018 that the ASA or CAP felt the need to investigate and request that the company look to change the name.

Is it right that such complaints can be upheld, seemingly on the basis of the current mood as opposed to any fair and real objections?

There Are Many Controversial Bingo Site Names

bingo flingPerhaps the thing that Broadway Gaming will feel most hard done to over is that Rehab Bingo wasn’t even the worst named site around at the time of the complaint.

Here are just some examples of names of bingo sites:

  • 888 Ladies
  • Loony Bingo
  • Bingo Fling
  • Dotty Bingo
  • Angry Bingo
  • Mile High Bingo
  • Woman Bingo

Couldn’t both 888 Ladies and Woman Bingo be seen as sexist? Certainly there’s a sexual undertone to the title of Mile High Bingo, with anyone who has ever enjoyed air travel knowing exactly what that means. The same is true of Bingo Fling, which is suggestive of an extra-marital affair.

Loony Bingo, Dotty Bingo and Angry Bingo, meanwhile, could all face the same accusations levelled at Rehab Bingo of not taking mental health seriously around the notion of bingo games and gambling. Are any of them really all that different to Rehab Bingo?

In fact, there’s an argument that the site that the Advertising Standards Authority decided to clamp down on had more of an excuse than the others because it was based on the name of a charity organisation.