Your cover story on sales promotions legalities, “Ill-gotten games” (MW May 24), confirms the bewilderment of the interpreters of the Lotteries Acts, codes of practice and case histories when dealing with the sometimes arcane workings of promotional techniques.
The authors of the article themselves also seem to be confused. They say: “For a promotion to be legal it must be possible to enter it without making a purchase,” and “some brand owners even charge consumers to enter competitions.” These two statements prove that the writers do not know the difference between a competition and a free prize draw. The first can and does demand a purchase. The second cannot.
They also say that scratchcards are competitions. Again, they are confused. The majority of scratchcards provide an instant result, which is based on chance alone. A purchase cannot be demanded.
The details of the regulations are contained in a line or two in an act that deals primarily with gaming. It does not mention scratchcards, instant wins, tie-breakers or no-purchase routes.
The ASA/ISP (voluntary) Code of Practice goes someway to clarify things. The Royal Mail/Disney scratchcard was not illegal. The free entry route was not printed on the scratchcard itself, but was clearly printed on all POS material.
However, one thing should not be left to chance. The Lotteries Act has to be brought up to date – now. Otherwise, the Brussels bureaucrats will force us to take the fun out of promotional marketing, as they have all over Europe.
Michael Bartman Promotional Marketing
The context of the article makes it clear that the promotion referred to was a scratchcard promotion, ie a game of chance. The implication of journalistic ignorance is therefore misguided – Editor.