CARU Refers Dave & Buster’s to FTC After Company Declines to Participate in CARU Process

New York, NY –  Oct. 25, 2017  – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has referred advertising claims made by Dave & Busters Entertainment, Inc. to the Federal Trade Commission after the company failed to respond to CARU’s inquiry concerning broadcast advertising that promoted the company’s “free video game play.”

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. CARU monitors advertising to children in all media for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising. CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The advertising at issue in CARU’s inquiry aired during children’s programming and opened with the written statement “Free Video Game Play” in large bold letters in the middle of the screen, followed by a second statement in a small font, “Weekdays this summer.”

The text was accompanied by the following voiceover: “Dave & Busters has free video game play weekdays this summer.  You can buy a power card for $50 and play video games for free all summer.”

At the bottom of the screen a video superscript appeared that stated, “Offer valid from 6/12/17 to 8/31/17, Monday through Friday until 6pm with the purchase of a $50 power card.  Only video games and simulation games where tickets are not won apply.  Offer excludes Rock’em Sock’em Robot and Dance Dance Revolution.”

CARU was concerned that play was advertised as free when the purchase of a $50 power card was required and the fact that some games were not included in the “free play” offer was not adequately disclosed to the child audience.

Dave & Busters declined to participate in the self-regulatory process and did not file a substantive written response to either CARU’s original inquiry letter or CARU’s 15-day follow-up letter.

In light of the operator’s decision against participation, CARU has referred this matter to the Federal Trade Commission for further review.