Around six weeks ago, Woolworths and Coles hit the headlines when it was revealed that their receipts were promoting a Facebook gambling application.
Doubledown Casino is one of many simulated gambling applications that can be found on Facebook. The receipt ads, which were placed on the dockets of both retailers by the Shop A Docket company, contained a URL (doubledowncasino.com/pokies) which, when clicked, redirects to the Facebook application page.
Both Woolworths and Coles said that, while they were unaware that the ad had been placed on their receipts, they would ensure that the offending dockets were removed. Coles said that they would remove them as soon as possible (in the next few weeks), whereas Woolworths were adamant that they couldn’t do this before May 1.
So I was quite surprised yesterday afternoon when one of my Twitter friends, @andrew_hedge, sent me a picture asking me if this kind of gambling promotion was legal. Here’s the pic (thanks Andrew!) :
This was on the back of a Target receipt that had been printed just the day before. Target is part of the Coles/Wesfarmers chain, so it’s pretty obvious that their determination to act quickly was just so much hot air.
This isn’t an isolated incident. Disturbed by this occurrence, I went home and checked my own shopping dockets. I share a house with my brother and we keep our dockets so we can work out who owes what for our groceries. So I grabbed the dockets from the fridge, flipped them over and took a closer look.
Well, I can’t speak for Woolworths because I don’t shop there as a rule. I do shop at Coles, as it’s just around the corner and is pretty much the only supermarket in my area other than Woolworths. And of the eight Coles receipts that we had accumulated in the past couple of weeks, seven contained the Doubledown Casino ad.
So it seems that Coles’ commitment to removing these dockets was as devoid of sincerity as those cringe-worthy ads they run. They’re still out there, still spruiking a gambling application to everyone and anyone, young and old.
Think I’m overreacting? Consider this. After finding these dockets, I added the Doubledown Casino application to my Facebook page. There were no age warnings and no declaration of simulated gambling content. Simulated gaming apps on iTunes are at least rated 12+ for content, and are supposedly illegal for minors to download (although in practice that’s a joke), but Facebook doesn’t even offer that. And as an overseas website, they can get away with it.
Doubledown Casino may be free to play, but if you want extra chips or bonuses, it costs real money. And whether you play for free or actually spend your dollars, Facebook gets a percentage of the revenue.
And in late March, just a few weeks after the docket gambling story broke in the papers, Double Down Interactive (the company behind the Facebook application) was acquired, with a price tag of $500 million, by IGT… who just happen to be one of the big players in Australia’s real-life poker machine industry. So not only do IGT have poker machines all over the country, but now they have them on our computer screens and smart phones as well.
I guess there’s no gambling like Coles gambling. Hmm, catchy.