The Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA") has published a ruling against Betfred, in respect of a "welcome" email promotion, on the grounds that the promotion was misleading.
Betfred sent a promotional "welcome" email to new customers which stated "BET £10, GET £30 Free on Sports Welcome to the Betfred family… You are now able to take advantage of our fantastic Stake £10, Get £30 welcome offer! Simple [sic] stake £10 or more at odds of evens or greater in a single transaction and you will receive £30 in free bets!"
The promotion was challenged on two grounds; the first being that the advert was misleading, due to the rules on the types of bets that could be placed, and, secondly, that it was not made sufficiently clear that the promotion applied to a customer's first bet.
The ASA did not uphold the first challenge, but found that the promotion did breach CAP Code Rule 8.17 in respect of the second challenge.
Misleading odds requirements
The first challenge to the promotion was raised by a complainant, who felt that the advert was misleading because he understood that he was required to stake at cumulative odds. Betfred however argued that the promotion clearly stated that consumers had to stake £10 at odds of evens or greater in a single transaction to qualify for the free bet. At no point did the advert state that consumers had to bet accumulatively. In addition Betfred referred to their terms and conditions which, they argued, made sufficiently clear that customers had the option to place a single, double, treble or cumulative bet. As evidence, they provided a list of customers who had made single and cumulative bets and been credited with the free bet.
The ASA acknowledged that the condition requiring customers to stake at "cumulative odds" may have caused confusion, as a customer may have thought that he needed to bet his stake accumulatively; when in fact, the cumulative odds referred to those offered for a bet placed on two or more selections in a single event. However, the ASA noted that the list of eligible consumers showed that those who had placed a single bet on one outcome for a specific event were also credited with the £30 free bet. Further, the ASA recognised that the complainant had selected multiple related outcomes to one event which could not be combined as one cumulative bet, otherwise there would be no cumulative risk involved. Therefore the complainant had not met the minimum staking requirement and did not qualify for the offer. As a result, the promotion was not misleading.
The second challenge to the promotion was raised by a complainant, who took up the promotion and later realised that he could not take advantage of the promotion. Betfred stated that the complainant's first bet did not qualify as the minimum odds of "evens or above" criteria were not met. Betfred believed that the offer terms and conditions were one click away from the advert, as consumers could click on a hyperlink stating "More Info" which directed them to the full terms and conditions and which included the condition "You must stake £10 …. on your first bet."
The ASA found that the promotion did breach CAP Code Rule 8.17 which states that all promotions "must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead". Specifically, the promotion failed to make clear the conditions for participating in the promotion and "other major factors reasonably likely to influence consumers' decision or understanding about the promotion", so fell foul of CAP Code 8.17.1. The ASA considered that, even though the promotion was sent as part of a "welcome" email, the fact that the free bet could only be won on a consumer's first bet was a significant condition, and therefore should have been included in the main body of the ad. In addition, the ASA found that the terms and conditions were in fact two clicks away from the promotion.
This ruling serves as a reminder of the importance of drawing out all significant conditions and including them within the promotion itself where possible. This remains the case even if the conditions appear to be implied by the context; for example, continuing to include the condition that an offer only applies to new bets, notwithstanding that the offer is sent as a "welcome" offer to new players.
The ASA's full report of this hearing can be found here.