Claims seen on 23 June 2016 on www.williamhill.com, an online betting website, stated "BET £10 GET £20 FREE CREDITED AS 2 X £10 BETS PROMO CODE: F20 EU REFERENDUM BETTING NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY *Wagering and Terms Apply". Clicking on Wagering and Terms Apply opened a pop-up box that stated "PROMO CODE: F20 Terms and conditions ... Your first bet must be placed on selection(s) with single/cumulative odds greater than 1/2 (1.5) ...".
The complainant, who believed the conditions of the offer were not made clear, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
WHG (International) Ltd t/a William Hill said small print at the bottom of the page displayed the terms and conditions for the offer. The third point stated “Your first bet must be placed on a selection(s) with single/cumulative odds greater than ½ (1.5)”. They said that condition was repeated in the click though link “Wagering and Terms Apply”. They believed the terms and conditions were clearly communicated to consumers in both the ad itself and again in the related click through terms. Consumers, therefore, were able to make an informed decision whether or not to participate in the promotion.
William Hill believed that the ad was subject to a limited amount of space and therefore they could not include all the conditions in the main body of the ad. They explained that the terms and conditions referred to “Sport”, because it fell under their Sportsbook site, but it also included betting on politics and other non-sporting events.
The ASA considered that consumers would expect significant conditions that would affect their participation in the offer to be clearly stated in the ad. The headline claims made clear that the offer was only for new customers and that a minimum £10 was required. The need, however, for the bet to be placed on a selection with odds greater than 1.5 was not stated in the main body of the ad. We acknowledged that this condition was stated in the small print terms and conditions at the bottom of the page, as well as in the click through “Wagering and Terms Apply” link, We considered, however, that it was a significant term that was likely to affect a customers’ understanding of the offer and should have been included in the main body of the ad. Notwithstanding that point, the small print stated “Terms and conditions: Sport”, which we considered gave the impression that the quoted terms and conditions applied to sporting events rather than the advertised EU Referendum bet.
We considered that the restriction on the odds was a significant condition to the offer that consumers needed to be aware of in order for them to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate in the promotion. Because it was not included in the main body of the ad, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead consumers as to the nature of the advertised bet.
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), 3.10 3.10 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (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 its current form. We told WHG (International) Ltd to ensure that their future promotions made sufficiently clear if free bet offers were subject to qualifying bets being made on a selected range of odds.