A national press ad for Coral, seen in the Racing Post on 16 June 2018. Text stated, "PRICE BOOST Argentina v Iceland MESSI TO SCORE 2+ GOALS 5/1". Text stating "WAS 3/1" was struck through, and beneath that further text stated, "Max bet £10 ...". Text in the small print stated, "PRICE BOOST: Offer available online and mobile from 8am 16/06/18 for a limited time only. Max Bet £10 ... The 'was' price advertised is a guide price only, prices are subject to fluctuation ...".
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling challenged whether the crossed out price of 3/1 and the claim "PRICE BOOST" were misleading.
Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd (Coral) said 3/1 was the standard price when the promotion was introduced, but that of course fluctuated due to factors within the overall market, affecting the event in general. Those factors included (but were not limited to) things like betting patterns, team news and relevant news articles. They said the nature of press ads meant that the content had to be confirmed further in advance of publication than ads in other media and the ad therefore stated “guide price only, prices are subject to fluctuation” to ensure consumers were well-informed about the offer.
Coral said the market was created on 6 June 2018 with the price of 3/1. That price shortened to 14/5 for a little over a minute on 14 June, and then returned to 3/1. As the match approached, on 15 June (the day before the fixture), the price shortened again to 13/5 as money started coming in on selections. They said the offer ended at kick-off – 2pm on 16 June – when the market effectively disappeared and was replaced by the in-play market, which fluctuated in price throughout the match. They provided details of the number of bets placed by customers at 3/1, and the number placed at the promotional price boost of 5/1.
Coral explained that the standard priced market moved in a way that made the price boost more advantageous to the customers who placed a bet on it. The 5/1 price boost returned £60 for a £10 bet. If consumers had bet £10 on the market at the guide price of 3/1 the return would have been £40, and at 13/5 – the odds available in the standard market the day before the match – it would have returned £36.
The ASA considered consumers would generally be aware that odds were subject to fluctuations in the build-up to a sporting event. We considered that those fluctuations were not typically represented in ads. Consumers would therefore infer from the crossed out price of 3 /1 and the reference to a “PRICE BOOST” that the price of 5 /1 was a promotional offer from Coral which created a genuine benefit for the consumer, as opposed to a standard fluctuation in the price. That impression was reinforced by the conditions that appeared immediately below the price claim, which were "Max bet £10. Available online and mobile from 8am for a limited time only”. We understood from that text that the “price boost” only applied to bets placed online or via the Coral mobile app.
We considered consumers would expect the crossed out price of 3 /1 to have been the predominant standard market price in the period before the ad appeared, albeit that fluctuations in the market might have meant that it had not been constant throughout that period, and that the standard price may have moved in the period between the ad being created and its publication in the paper. We also considered that they would have expected the standard price to continue to apply, subject to standard fluctuations, for those placing bets through means other than via the Coral website or mobile app in the period during which the ‘price boost’ odds of 5 /1 applied (between 8 am on 16 June and kick-off at 2 pm that day).
The information provided by Coral demonstrated that many more bets were placed at the price boost odds of 5 /1 than were placed at 3 /1, and that the price had fluctuated from 3 /1 very briefly on 14 June and again the day before the ad appeared. Notwithstanding that the odds shortened on both occasions, we considered those fluctuations did not alter the status of 3 /1 as the standard market price in the period before the ad appeared. We also understood that during the price boost period those who did not use the Coral website or mobile app to place their bets did so at the standard market rate. We therefore concluded that the crossed out price of 3 /1 and the claim "PRICE BOOST" were unlikely to mislead.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.