A press ad, seen in the Daily Telegraph on 10 June 2016, stated in large text “ENGLAND TO BEAT RUSSIA WAS 10/11 NOW 50/1”. Underneath text stated “Max Bet £1 … PLUS a £5 Free Bet should your bet lose WINNINGS PAID IN CASH I Available from 8am. Get it while it lasts”. Small print at the bottom of the ad stated “NEW CUSTOMER OFFER: … If your selection wins, you will be paid in cash based on the normal price on site and will have your account topped up to reflect the enhanced price in free bets. If your bet loses, a £5 free bet will be credited to your account within 24 hours of settlement. Free bet stake not returned... Full details at [website].”
The ASA received complaints from two members of the public.
1. One complainant, who understood that the offer ran for one hour from 8 am, challenged whether that was made sufficiently clear in the ad.
2. Another complainant, who noted from the small print that winnings based on the enhanced odds were not paid in cash but as free bets, challenged whether the promotion was misleading.
1. Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a Coral stated that the promotion ran for an hour at 8 am. They explained that it was common practice for bookmakers to advertise odds that were available for a limited time because the odds offered were part of a live market and subject to live trading changes. They believed that the text “get it while it lasts” was sufficient in informing consumers of the limited amount of time the offer was available and that they were likely to already understand the restricted timeframe of the promotion because of the odds being so greatly inflated.
2. Coral stated that consumers did receive all their winnings in cash and that the condition “If your selection wins, you will be paid in cash based on the normal price on site and will have your account topped up to reflect the enhanced price in free bets” was made in error. Moving forward, they stated that they had taken further steps to ensure that all terms included in their ads were in line with the offer.
The ASA acknowledged that in gambling, the market odds changed frequently resulting from various factors and considered that consumers would be aware of this. However, we understood that the ad was offering new customers enhanced odds of “50/1” instead of Coral’s normal odds of “10/11” from 8am and for one hour only on 10 June for the England v Russia football match. We considered that the restricted timeframe of one hour was a significant condition that should have been prominently stated in the ad. The text “get it while it lasts” did not make sufficiently clear that consumers needed to place their qualifying bet within an hour from 8 am to take advantage of the offer. We considered that consumers would interpret the text to mean that there was limited availability of the enhanced odds being offered, which would be given on a first-come first-served basis.
Therefore, because the deadline to the offer had been omitted and given how the ad suggested that there was limited availability of the enhanced odds, we considered that the ad did not make sufficiently clear that the offer was only available for one hour and concluded that it was misleading.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
All marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead. Significant conditions or information may, depending on the circumstances, include:
How to participate
How to participate, including significant conditions and costs, and other major factors reasonably likely to influence consumers' decision or understanding about the promotion (Significant conditions for promotions).
We acknowledged in Coral’s response that the condition regarding how winnings based on the enhanced odds would be given in free bets was made in error and that consumers received all their winnings in cash. Nevertheless, we considered that consumers were likely to interpret the condition as contradicting rather than qualifying the claim “WINNINGS PAID IN CASH” and we therefore also concluded that the ad was misleading in that respect.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications 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 their future promotions included relevant applicable significant conditions where their omission was likely to mislead and that qualifications clarified, rather than contradicted, their headline claims.