The bwin website www.bwin.com, seen on 26 March 2016, included a page headed “£30 WELCOME BONUS!”. Further text below detailed the steps to receiving the bonus, including “1. Register Now! … 2. Make your deposit Add at least £10 into your account 3. Receive your Welcome Bonus* We’ll match your deposit with a bonus up to £30!”. Lower down the page Terms and Conditions were shown with an asterisk displayed next to the header. They included, “7. If an Eligible Player places an Eligible Deposit: a. We will credit the player with a bonus amount equal to the Eligible Deposit”, “8. Bonus type: release restricted i.e. Bonus funds shall not be available to play with until the player meets the Requirements (as defined below) and satisfies the conditions set out in paragraph 10”, “10. The bonus shall be released in two instalments: a. The first bonus instalment can be withdrawn after the Requirements are satisfied by the player for the first time; and b. the second instalment can be withdrawn after the Requirements are satisfied by the player for a second time. 11.The requirements are as follows: 1. The bonus and the first deposit amount must be wagered 1.5 times…”.
The complainant, who deposited £17 and was told that to release the bonus of £17 they needed to wager £102, challenged whether the ad omitted significant terms and conditions and was misleading.
ElectraWorks Ltd said that the asterisk next to “Receive your Welcome Bonus” indicated that the promotion was subject to the terms and conditions (T&Cs) which were visible immediately below the image on the same page. They believed all relevant information, including significant terms and conditions, were sufficiently prominent on the page as to enable consumers to make an informed decision about whether or not to participate in the promotion.
They said that the promotion was subject to the specific T&Cs on the page, as well as their general T&Cs, as specified in the promotional T&Cs. They said it was common industry practice for wagering or release requirements to apply before a bonus can be played with and/or withdrawn. They understood that such requirements were permissible provided they were made clear. Their promotion required a player to wager the sum of the bonus amount and the first deposit amount three times, with the bonus being released in two equal instalments: the first payable on wagering the bonus and first deposit amount 1.5 times, and the second on wagering the bonus and first deposit amount a further 1.5 times. For example, if a player first deposited £10, they would receive a corresponding £10 bonus. They would have to wager 1.5 times this amount (ie. £30) for the first amount to be released, and a further 1.5 times (ie. £30, bringing the total wagered to £60) for the second instalment to be released. They believed the T&Cs for the promotion made this clear. It was therefore in accordance with the T&Cs that the complainant was told they needed to wager £102 to release the full bonus amount (ie. six times £17).
The ASA considered that the prominent header “£30 WELCOME BONUS!” and further text below detailed the steps to receiving the bonus, meant consumers would expect that once they had deposited at least £10, they would receive a matched bonus amount of up to £30. The text “Receive your Welcome Bonus” emphasised the impression that the bonus amount would be received immediately and we considered that the average consumer would expect to be able to bet with it straight away.
We considered the fact that users were not able to release the full bonus until they had wagered six times their original deposit amount was significant material information which was likely to influence a consumer's decision of whether or not to take up the offer. The significance of this condition to consumers meant it should have been clearly stated in the main body of the ad, rather than only in the T&Cs, even where those terms and conditions were shown in full on the same page. Because the wagering requirement was not stated sufficiently clearly we concluded the ad was 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 8.2 8.2 Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. (Promotional marketing).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told ElectraWorks Ltd to ensure that their ads clearly stated wagering requirements for promotions.