The Health Lottery, an enterprise run by media mogul Richard Desmond, has been told to cease an advertising campaign which misleadingly implied multiple winners had claimed the top prize of £250,000.
The Advertising Standards Agency was called in to investigate after receiving complaints that the advert implied a jackpot of £250,000 had been won several times before and would be offered again in future.
The television advert included a voice-over that stated: "Already 375,000 people have won, with jackpot winners scooping up to a quarter of a million pounds each. And you could be next."
Accompanying text on screen stated "Up to £1/4m" alongside images of four couples, one of whom was labelled "£200K winner!", The other three were labelled "£100K winner!".
In the judgment, the ASA said it considered the above voice over-claim was likely to be interpreted as suggesting multiple winners had claimed the top prize of £250,000 and that the same amount would be available again on a regular basis.
"We therefore considered, on balance, that the ad misleadingly implied there was a jackpot of £250,000 more regularly than was the case...(and) that the ad had breached the code."
The Health Lottery has had a bumpy start since its launch in 2011; the Guardian reported in June that it had "failed to live up to expectations, bringing in about half the £50m a year promised for good causes and racking up a pre-tax loss of £28.5m in its first three months".
Chief executive Martin Hall also stepped down in April, although he remains a non-executive director.
But in more positive news, the Health Lottery has seen off an attempt to block its ongoing business from the National Lottery operators Camelot, which had taken to the High Court action to call for it to cease trading as it breached the National Lottery Act of 1993, which allows for just one national lottery.
The BBC reported today that Camelot had accused the Health Lottery of being an "unlawful and a blatant example of an attempt to commercialise a society lottery on an industrial scale that cuts across both the spirit and letter of statute and regulation".
Camelot now intends to lodge papers with the Court of Appeal.
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