ASA Adjudication on William Hill Organisation Ltd
William Hill Organisation Ltd
50 Station Road
7 October 2009
National press, Poster
Number of complaints:
Two press ads and a poster for William Hill bookmakers.
a. The first press ad stated "£100 OF FREE BETS! New customers open an online or phone account using Promo Code XXXX to claim £100 in free bets. 1st bet up to £50 matched then 5 x £10 Free Bets*". The asterisk linked to small print which stated "www.williamhill.com/promo or call our 24hr call centre for full details. Correct promo code must be used to qualify for the free bet. All prices subject to fluctuation. Over 18s only. William Hill rules apply".
b. The second press ad stated "£100 OF FREE BETS! New customers open an online or phone account using Promo Code XXXX to claim £100 in free bets. 1st bet up to £50 match then 5 x £10 Free Bets*". The asterisk linked to small print which stated "www.williamhill.com/promo or call our 24hr call centre for full details. Correct promo code must be used to qualify for the free bet. All prices subject to fluctuation. Over 18s only. William Hill rules apply. Prices correct as at 6.00pm yesterday".
c. The poster showed an image of a computer mouse. Text stated "£100 OF FREE BETS ONLINE. Enter promotional code XXXX. Terms and conditions apply".
The complainant challenged whether the ads were misleading because they did not make clear that any winnings that resulted from the free bets would be settled without the amount of the free stake being returned.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
William Hill Organisation Ltd (William Hill) said the customer was being offered a free bet and that it was clear from the ad that conditions were attached to that offer. They said the condition of not getting the stake back did not make the £100 bet being any less free and that the customers would still receive their winnings. They said they did not think that the condition was unusual or would be unexpected and customers would not lose from their own funds if they took up the offer but, if successful, would win despite having not staked any money of their own.
The ASA noted the terms of the offer were that consumers could claim the promotional £100 of free bets in increments as a result of spending specified amounts on real bets. We considered that, because the increments of free bets were only awarded as a result of minimum spends by the consumer; customers would expect those bets to be treated in the same way as any other bet and to get their stake back along with any winnings.
We noted the terms and conditions on the advertisers website stated that stakes were not returned on free bets. However, we also noted that information was not included in the ads and considered that was a significant condition likely to affect consumers decisions to take advantage of the offer in the first instance. We concluded that the omission of this information from ads (a), (b) and (c) was likely to mislead.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 7.1, 7.2 (Truthfulness) and 34.1 (Significant conditions for promotions).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told William Hill to ensure significant conditions were detailed in their ads in the future.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)