Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, of which one was Upheld and one Not upheld.
A promotional 'welcome' email from Betfred to new customers, a gambling operator, received on 3 and 6 July 2016 stated “BET£10, GET £30 Free on Sports Welcome to the Betfred family, here’s the username you registered with … You are now able to take advantage of our fantastic Stake £10, Get £30 welcome offer! Simple [sic] stake £10 or more at odds of evens or greater in a single transaction and you will receive £30 in free bets! You can use it however you please across any sport ... The bonus will be credited within 48 hours of your qualifying bet being settled”. The ad included a hyperlink to 'More information' which took consumers to a landing page about the offer and included a further hyperlink to the full terms and conditions of the offer. At the bottom of the ad was a hyperlink to the general “Terms and Conditions” that applied to all Betfred promotions.
The ASA received complaints from two members of the public.
1. One complainant, who took up the offer but was unable to claim the free bet, challenged whether the ad was misleading because they understood it was only applicable if consumers staked at cumulative odds.
2. Another complainant, who was also unable to claim the free bet because the offer only applied to a player’s first bet, challenged whether that was made sufficiently clear in the ad.
1. Petfre (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a Betfred said the ad clearly stated that consumers had to stake £10 at odds of evens or greater in a single transaction in order to qualify for the free £30 bet. They explained that this condition appeared within the body copy, and that at no point did the ad state that consumers had to bet accumulatively to meet the qualifying requirements. Betfred also referred us to the full terms and conditions to the offer, which they believed made sufficiently clear that customers had the option to place a single, double, treble or cumulative bet with their £10 stake. Furthermore, they provided a list of consumers who had placed single and cumulative bets at odds of evens or greater on 3 and 6 July 2016 for a specific event and were credited with a £30 free bet.
Betfred stated that if consumers wanted to place a cumulative bet, they had to select multiple different outcomes that were unrelated. They referred to their records and noted that although the complainant spent £10 on a single betting slip, they had backed multiple related outcomes, i.e. ‘£5 Portugal v Wales match result. (Portugal win) @ 6/5, £3 Portugal v Wales (Wales win) 3/1, £1 Portugal to win and under 4.5 goals 5/4 and £1 Wales to win and under 4.5 goals 11/4’. Therefore, those selections could not be combined as one cumulative bet and were recorded as separate transactions and given that the complainant’s first recorded stake was £5, they had not met the minimum qualifying bet requirement of £10.
2. Betfred stated that the complainant’s first bet did not qualify for the offer because the minimum odds of “evens or above” criteria was not met. They stated that the terms and conditions to the offer were one-click away from the ad. Consumers had to click on the text “More Info” which directed them to the offer’s terms and conditions page, which included the condition “You must stake £10 or more (or currency equivalent) at cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet …”. Furthermore, they stated that at the bottom of the ad was the text “Terms and Conditions” which when clicked on, directed consumers to the general terms and conditions that applied to all their promotions.
Whilst Betfred believed that the link to the offer’s terms and conditions page was sufficient, they stated that they would include all the terms and conditions for a specific promotion in their future emails.
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered recipients of the email were likely to interpret the ad, particularly the claim “Simple [sic] stake £10 or more at odds of evens or greater in a single transaction and you will receive £30 in free bets!” to mean that in order to take advantage of the offer, they could stake their £10 on any type of bet in a single event (e.g. a particular team to win a particular match) at odds of evens or greater.
We noted that the full terms and conditions to the offer stated “You must stake £10 or more (or currency equivalent) at cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet”. This suggested that it was mandatory for consumers to wager their qualifying stake accumulatively in order to receive their free £30 bet. We understood that cumulative odds referred to those offered for a bet placed on two or more selections in a single event (e.g. a particular football player to score and for his team to win in a particular match) where the totalled odds for each selection amounted to evens or greater. We considered that this condition contradicted how the offer in the email itself would be interpreted and was likely to confuse consumers.
However, we noted that the list of eligible consumers to the offer showed that those who had also placed a single bet at odds of evens or greater on 3 and 6 July 2016 on one outcome for a specific event, were credited with a £30 free bet. Furthermore, we understood that the complainant had selected multiple related outcomes on one betting slip for the Portugal v Wales football match and acknowledged that they could not be combined as one cumulative bet, but as separate transactions, as otherwise there would be no cumulative risk involved. Because of that, the complainant had not met the minimum staking requirement of £10 on their first bet and did not qualify for the offer.
We therefore considered Betfred had provided adequate evidence showing that the promotion did not just apply to cumulative bets and therefore was not misleading.
On this point 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 8.1 8.1 Promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions. 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), but did not find it in breach.
The ASA understood that the offer was only targeted at new customers and that the “welcome” email was sent to them shortly after they had registered an account with Betfred. We considered that customers who received the “welcome” email would have expected that they could take advantage of the free bet offer if they just placed a bet of £10 in a single event. However, we noted that the terms and conditions to the offer also stated that the free bet would only apply if a customer was placing their first bet. We considered that this was a significant condition to the offer and should have been included in the main body of the ad, as some consumers may have started betting immediately after registering before reading the “welcome” email. We noted that the terms and conditions to the advertised offer were two clicks away. Consumers had to click on “More Info” and were directed to the landing page for the promotion which included the text “Terms and Conditions” and when clicked on, expanded showing all the applicable terms and conditions.
Therefore, because of the omission of such a significant condition and the misleading impression given by the ad, we concluded that the promotion 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.
Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Petfre (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a Betfred to ensure that their future offers included relevant applicable significant conditions where their omission was likely to mislead.