A TV ad for Coral Interactive, seen on 18 October 2016, promoted their cash out feature. The voice-over in the ad stated "Imagine if you could just stop stuff when you wanted to. With Coral's Cash Out My Bet, you decide when to blow the whistle. Online or on your phone, you can cash out your bet with Coral." On-screen text stated "18+ gambleaware.co.uk. Terms at coral.co.uk".
Two complainants, who were unable to cash out their bets using the ‘Cash Out’ feature, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd said – in response to the first complainant who noted that the ‘Cash Out’ feature was suspended for long periods of time on two particular dates – that, although their intention was to have the ‘Cash Out’ feature functionality available for as long as possible, there were inevitable and uncontrollable circumstances which might prevent the feature from being available. For example, a market being suspended because an incident that had occurred in a football match. Another example would be where there were technical issues which might prevent the functionality from being available. They stated that those circumstances were referred to in the terms and conditions for the ‘Cash Out My Bet’ functionality, which were stated on their website, “A Cash Out offer is subject to a time delay: price changes or market suspensions during this may result in a new Cash Out Offer being made, or in the suspension or removal of the Cash out Offer on that selection or market at that time”.
Coral also stated that the ad clearly indicated that terms and conditions applied to the ‘Cash Out My Bet’ feature. Those terms in question, which could be found on their website, were “Bets will not be placed with the sole intention to Cash Out, as availability is never guaranteed” and “Coral reserve the right to amend, suspend or remove Cash Out My Bet availability at any time on any market or to any customer”.
In response to the second complainant who was unable to cash out on their football bet selection, Coral stated that the ‘Cash Out’ functionality was available to football customers, depending on their selections, and was also available on other betting opportunities. They said there were restrictions on what could be cashed out, as referred to in their terms and conditions on their website, and the markets for which the functionality was available would be indicated by a ‘CASH OUT’ notification on the eligible bet selections in the customer’s account.
Clearcast, referring to the terms and conditions for the ‘Cash Out’ feature stated above, believed that the term relating to Coral’s right to suspend was not a material term, and that the average gambling viewer would understand that this type of feature would have terms and conditions attached and would look on Coral’s website for the full terms. In response to the second complainant’s concerns, Clearcast said Coral’s terms and conditions clearly stated that the feature applied to football bets, and on that basis they approved the ad without having that term as an exception in the form of on-screen text. They stated that there were restrictions on what could be cashed out, but did not feel that those restrictions needed to be made clear as they were set out in Coral’s full terms available on their website.
The ASA noted that the beginning of the ad featured two characters who found themselves in three undesirable scenarios – the first being that they were caught in a downpour; the second, that the male character was subject to a body search outside a sports ground; and the third, that they were stuck in the middle of a loud marching brass band. We considered that consumers were likely to understand from all three scenarios, in conjunction with the voice-over “Imagine if you could just stop stuff when you wanted to. With Coral’s Cash Out My Bet, you decide when to blow the whistle”, that they would be able to use the ‘Cash Out’ feature at any stage they wished on any bets they placed with Coral. We also considered that viewers would understand the on-screen text “Terms at coral.co.uk” to mean that terms and conditions were applicable to the feature, but did not consider that it was sufficient to alter the overall impression that consumers would be able to ‘cash out’ whenever they wished and on any type of bets.
We understood that the ‘Cash Out’ offer on bet selections might be suspended or removed under certain circumstances that might affect the results or outcome, and therefore market conditions – e.g., an event that might have occurred during a football match. We also understood that the feature was only available to certain types of bet selection in some sports markets. An example of an eligible bet would be a combined selection of the result and correct score of the first half, and the result of the second half of a football game. We noted both Coral’s and Clearcast’s responses that the relevant terms were stated in their online terms and conditions. We considered, however, that the fact that only certain bet selections were eligible for the feature, and that the ‘Cash Out’ offer on bet selections could be suspended or removed under certain circumstances, was material information that consumers required in order to make an informed decision about placing a bet. We considered, therefore, that they should have been made clear in the ad.
Because the ad gave a misleading impression regarding the availability of the ‘Cash Out’ feature, and because it did not make clear that the ‘Cash Out’ offer would be suspended or removed under certain circumstances, and that it was only available for certain types of bet selections in some sports markets, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Advertisements must not mislead consumers 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 consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. (Misleading advertising), and 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd to ensure that future ads did not imply that consumers would be able to use the ‘Cash Out’ feature at any stage they wished and on any types of bet selection, if that was not the case. We also told them to ensure that material information, for example the ‘Cash Out’ offer might be removed or suspended under certain circumstances and that only certain types of bet selection in some sports markets were eligible, was made clear in future ads.