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ASA Adjudication on William Hill Online

William Hill Online

6/1 Waterport Place
Gibraltar

Date:

29 February 2012

Media:

Press general

Sector:

Leisure

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A11-168671

Ad

A press ad for William Hill was headlined "TOP PRICE THE FAVOURITES EVERY PREMIER LEAGUE & SPL MATCH We guarantee to offer the best prices on ALL favourites in the opening round of Premier League matches and SPL matches this weekend*". The asterisk linked to small print at the bottom of the ad which stated "Top price means we will match or better the 90 minute win price of the favourite at the time the bet was placed with the following bookmakers - Ladbrokes, Coral & Paddy Power as advertised in Oddschecker. Free bet is added to your account on settlement of first bet. Free bet stake not included in any winnings/returns. Valid for 7 days".

Issue

Coral Racing Ltd challenged whether the claim "TOP PRICE THE FAVOURITES EVERY PREMIER LEAGUE & SPL MATCH We guarantee to offer the best prices on ALL favourites" was misleading and could be substantiated because they believed that some of their own prices, including those available in betting shops and online, were better.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

William Hill Organisation Ltd (William Hill) said the ad specifically stated that the offer related to telephone/net/mobile based bets and believed that it did not state or imply that the offer also related to the prices available in retail betting outlets. They believed that this was made clearer through the text at the bottom of the ad which made a reference to the 'oddschecker' website and explained that this was an independent online odds comparison site. They explained that betting slips and coupons that were only available from retails betting outlets were not an accurate representation of the real time comparative prices between bookmakers because the prices varied potentially from the moment the information was created for distribution. They explained that this was due to the fact they would take bets on advertised coupon markets between coupon design and delivery to the shops and again until the kick-off of an event, which would affect the liabilities and therefore odds could vary and be changed. They stated that this was why betting coupons generally made clear that prices were subject to fluctuation and were therefore not included in the best price claim. They stated that it would not be possible to make claims for any prices on printed material.

They stated that oddschecker was a publically available website that would typically be used by customers who were familiar with betting. They explained that the oddschecker website operated in such a way that the information was taken from bookmakers and displayed on a site in order that consumers could observe where the best price may be available. They stated that because of the way in which the service worked, there may be delays in the prices being displayed meaning the most up to date prices offered by the bookmakers may not be displayed. They explained that they maintained their best prices by monitoring and amending prices in reaction to their competitors prices and that this was achieved through monitoring bookmakers own sites along with sites like oddschecker. They explained that because this was not an automated system there were sometimes delays in beating or matching prices but that any necessary changes were actioned as soon as possible. They maintained that their prices available through telephone/net/mobile did offer the best prices on the favourites in the opening round of the Premier League and stated that they took steps to maintain the best prices or best matched prices on those markets. They provided their odds price history for the premier league and SPL matches for the weekend of 13 and 14 August which included the changes that occurred following a reaction to other prices on the market, including Coral, which they believed demonstrated that they offered the best prices on those games or that they matched the prices offered by Coral following a review of the odds available on the oddschecker website.

Assessment

Not upheld

The ASA noted the body copy of the ad included the text "ALL FOOTBALL PRICES ARE PHONE/NET/MOBILE. DIFFERENT ODDS MAY APPLY IN SHOP" and considered that this made clear to readers that the top price claim related only to those prices available through the website, over the telephone or through the text message service and that the prices available in retail betting shops were not included in the price promise. We also noted the text at the bottom of the ad, which was linked to the price claim, made clear that the claim was based on the comparative win price against three main competitors at the time the bet was made and understood that if customers had seen a better price on the oddschecker site for one of the named competitors, William Hill agreed to either match or beat that price. We noted Coral believed its own prices for the matches referred to in the ad were better than those of William Hill. However, we examined the evidence provided by William Hill and considered that it demonstrated that it had either matched, or beaten, the odds offered by Coral (at the time at which a bet was placed) on the matches specifically referred to in the ad. We therefore concluded that the claim "TOP PRICE THE FAVOURITES EVERY PREMIER LEAGUE & SPL MATCH We guarantee to offer the best prices on ALL favourites in the opening round of Premier League matches and SPL matches this weekend*" was not misleading.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.33 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors) but did not find it in breach.

Action

No further action required

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