The website www.skypoker.com featured a display ad which stated "Join Sky Poker Receive a 200% first deposit bonus up to £500 and £10 completely free".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "Receive a 200% first deposit bonus" was misleading, because the ad didn't make clear that, to receive the bonus, players had to earn 25,000 "poker points" within the promotional period and he therefore considered that the bonus was extremely difficult to achieve.
Bonne Terre Ltd t/a Sky Poker (Sky Poker) stated that the bonus offer was for new customers only. They said it was a very common type of promotion for online poker sites, with similar conditions and amount of play requirements that were well understood in the online poker industry and community. They said that, because the promotion appeared on the Sky Poker website, most people viewing it would be familiar with that form of offer from both Sky Poker and their competitors.
Sky Poker argued that because of the prevalence of that type of promotion and ad throughout the online poker industry, they did not think the ad was misleading or required qualification. They asserted that if a new user did require further clarification they could access the full terms and conditions through the registration process, before completing their account registration. They also said to aid transparency they had now added a "Find Out More" link within the ad itself which took users to the landing page of the main terms of the promotion, and a link to the full terms and conditions.
Sky Poker also provided a copy of the full terms and conditions, and stated that the 200% bonus was possible to achieve. They said a player would need to make a deposit and accumulate at least 25,000 poker points based on their play during a 30-day period. They said to achieve 25,000 poker points did require a lot of play, but they highlighted that 11 of their active players had achieved that target in the last 30 days, and that two new players had reached in excess of 20,000. Given the significant bonus amount of £500 available, they felt it was not unreasonable that a significant amount of play was required for consumers to secure the maximum bonus.
The ASA noted that the ad simply stated "Join Sky Poker Receive a 200% first deposit bonus up to £500 ..." and that there was no further qualifying text, or any indication that there were conditions that had to be met in order to qualify for the offer. We noted from the terms and conditions supplied that in order for a consumer to receive a £500 bonus they would have to initially deposit £250, and then earn 25,000 poker points within 30 days. In addition, we understood that the bonus amount would be released £10 at a time for every 500 poker points earned, and that users had to play through their bonus funds before they could be withdrawn. We noted that poker points could be achieved in a variety of ways but that they were awarded based on a user's "real money gameplay", and therefore the more money they deposited and wagered on games the more points they earned. We noted that for every £1 contributed in "rake" (the commission charged by Sky Poker on the amount bet by participants during each hand) a consumer gained six poker points, and therefore understood that to reach 25,000 points through rake only, a user would have to contribute £4,167. Although we noted Sky Poker's assertion that several of their users had earned more than 25,000 poker points in a month, we understood that none of those individuals were new users, and that such a requirement was significant information which a consumer should be aware of before signing up to take advantage of the offer.
We noted that Sky Poker had amended the ad to include a "Find Out More" link which they claimed took users to a page which highlighted the main terms of the promotion. We noted, however, that upon clicking on that link consumers were taken to a page which stated "Join Sky Poker ... 200% first deposit bonus up to £500 ... Get a 200% bonus on your first deposit", and that consumers had to click on a "Terms and Conditions" link to access the terms which applied to the offer. We therefore understood that when viewing the ad, a consumer would still have no awareness of the conditions they had to meet in order to take advantage of the offer. We considered that the qualifying information which applied to the offer was not presented with sufficient prominence and concluded that the claim was therefore misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told Sky Poker to ensure qualifications for their offers were presented clearly in future ads.