A web page titled “Cash Out” featured on the promotions section of the website www.betfair.com, seen in October 2018.
Text stated “CASH OUT KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL CASH OUT WHEN THE MOMENT IS RIGHT AND TAKE YOUR PROFITS … HOW IT WORKS 1. Add selections to your betslip as normal. Bets eligible for Cash Out will have the ‘Cash Out’ icon appear next to them. 2. Place your bet where Cash Out is available. 3. To see all of your eligible Cash Out bets go the Cash Out page. 4. To Cash Out your bet simply press ‘Cash Out’. Should your Cash Out be successful, your returns will be paid instantly. 5. If you wish to Cash Out part of your bet, press the ‘Cash Out Part of Your Bet’ button, then use the slider to Cash Out as much or as little of your bet as you like, your returns will be paid instantly”.
Additional text at the bottom of the page stated “Cash Out is available on selected markets where the orange ‘Cash Out’ symbol is shown. Images are for illustration purposes only. Cash Out is not always guaranteed to be available”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because they were unable to cash out under the stated terms.
Paddy Power Betfair plc t/a Betfair explained that ‘cash out’ was a product which allowed customers to control their live bets by letting them take their winnings early or cutting their losses. Betfair offered cash out across a variety of sports and was available on all betting markets which displayed the Cash Out icon. Customers could cash out of bets at any time before the sporting event (pre-play) or during the event (in-play) and was most commonly used in-play.
They said that the Betfair website had information about the feature on a web page which also included a detailed FAQ section. They explained that the cash out feature was sometimes suspended during live sporting events when a major incident took place, for example when a goal was scored or a red card was given. The temporary suspension of the feature was necessary to update odds and to prevent people from being able to place bets on events which had just occurred.
Customers were not able to cash out when the underlying betting market was suspended. Betfair stated that it was in their financial interest to allow customers to cash out even when it was for a large sum relative to the customer’s initial stake as this would reduce volatility and would be beneficial from a risk and trading perspective. They said in this respect they wanted to increase their customer’s use of the cash out feature rather than to restrict the use of it. They confirmed that they did not have the technical ability to block or suspend the cash out feature on an individual bet level or to block cash out when certain thresholds were met.
However, it would be technically possible for Betfair to exclude customers from having access to cash out in its entirety across all sports and betting markets. They confirmed that there were no Betfair customers who were excluded from using cash out and they had no plans to exclude anyone from the feature. In relation to the complaint, they stated that when a major event took place, during injury time, for example, it would be difficult to price up the market given the lack of time remaining in the match. In such a situation it was normal practice for Betfair to reopen the main “match odds” market after the incident and not to reopen the secondary markets such as “match odds and over/under 2.5 goals” or “total number of corners” because of the lack of time remaining in the match.
In the example given by the complainant, Betfair explained that in that match, they had reopened the match odds after a red card was handed out in the 92nd minute of the match. However, all secondary markets such as “match odds over/under 2.5 goals” did not reopen and remained suspended from the 92nd minute until the end of the match. They said that the ad stated that cash out was not always guaranteed to be available and linked to a page explaining what cash out was and how it worked as well as answering questions such as “why is the cash out offer suspended” and “why wasn’t my cash out successful?”. This was also in accordance with their terms and conditions which were linked from the ad.
The ad stated that the cash out feature was not always guaranteed to be available and that it was only available on selected markets where the orange Cash Out symbol was shown. The ASA considered that consumers would therefore understand that they would be able to use the cash out feature on bets which displayed the Cash Out logo and that it would not be available in certain scenarios. Additional linked text stated “Learn more about Cash Out here” and “Full Betfair terms and conditions apply”. We considered consumers would understand that they could find more detailed information about the Cash Out feature by following those links.
The first link took website users to the ‘Sportsbook’ which provided additional details on what cash out was and how it worked as well as including an FAQ section. This addressed why there may be a delay during cash out, why a cash out offer was suspended and why a cash out was not successful. The second link took users to terms and conditions which set out that customers would be notified of whether their request to cash out was successful as well as providing a reason why the request was unsuccessful. This also stated that a cash out was not guaranteed to be successful if the market was suspended or the odds moved before a request was processed. In an example provided by the complainant, the cash out feature was not available after a goal was scored and a red card was given during extra time in a football match.
We understood from the information available on Betfair’s website that when changes occurred during an event the market was suspended and cash out offers for single or multiple bets on that market were also suspended. We considered that it was clear from the ad that cash out was not always available and the linked terms and conditions and Sportsbook pages clearly set out the scenarios in which cash out would not be available to consumers. We also considered that Betfair customers would be aware of these exclusions when betting in-play. We therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading. We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 (Qualification), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.