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Bet365 bonus offer deemed misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bet365 bonus offer deemed misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority


As W.H. Auden almost, but didn't quite, say:

Stop all the clocks,
Cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos,
And with muffled drum...

...announce the fact that a regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority, has actually just done its job, made a fair judgement based on a sensible adjudication without recourse to "must-back-casino-at-all-costs" mentality, and found for the player, against the casino.


No, I did not write that backwards. I did not say "for the casino, against the player". I wrote it right first time: for the player, against the casino.

Read it and weep, online gambling industry:



ASA Adjudication on Bet365 Group Ltd

Ad

A TV ad for Bet365 stated "Back any single winner at 4/1 or more on any race shown live on Channel 4 and we'll give you a free bet to the same stake on the next live Channel 4 race. Your free bet also wins at odds of 4/1 or more, you qualify for a free bet on the next Channel 4 race. Keep backing those winners and we’ll keep giving you free bets!"

Issue

Three viewers challenged whether the ad was misleading, because after winning one free bet they were told they could no longer take part in the promotion.

Response

Bet365 said they believed the three viewers had unusual betting patterns and were exploiting the free offer. They believed two viewers were using betting exchanges whereby they could offset the risk of a bet and gain a free bet without risking any of their own money. Bet365 contended that an examination of the customers accounts showed that they bet on races with the same odds and, because they did not bet on all races, said it appeared they were systematically selecting races that allowed them to exploit the free bet offer.

Bet365 stated that the third viewer also made selective bets and suspected they used a betting exchange. They believed the viewer backed horses each way, effectively giving them a bet on the horse both to win and lose, and they were unlikely to lose any money, which was "bad business". Bet365 said their terms and conditions made clear that promotional offers were only available for recreational players and explained they would only take the step of excluding a customer from the offer after a full investigation of their account and historic betting activity. Bet365 said only 2.5% of customers on their database were deemed to be non-recreational and were excluded from offers.

Clearcast said the ad was not directed toward professional gamblers and considered the specific issues raised by viewers about their accounts was a matter between them and the advertiser.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA considered that the ad was likely to be interpreted as encouraging viewers to place successive bets on the condition that if they won they could place a further bet for free. We understood that Bet365 excluded a proportion of customers who they deemed to be non-recreational players; however, we considered that without defined criteria, it appeared that Bet365 had excluded customers from the offer when they were winning or were no longer profitable.

We noted the ad did not state that customers who made each way bets, won frequently on similar bets, or used betting exchanges would be excluded from the offer. Although we understood that Bet365 believed the viewers were exploiting the offer, in the absence of qualification in the ad to make Bet365s limitations on the offer clear, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.

The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Code rules 5.1.2 and 5.2.3 (Misleading advertising.)

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Bet365 to make the limitations of offers clear in future.



Forget about the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, that merry band of tomahawk-toting tribesmen of the Canadian Indian reserve so beloved of crooked online casino operators the world over, who recently told us that the last ten years of fakery and negligence didn't matter, because they'd now turned over a new leaf and appointed eCOGRA, that renowned Microgaming puppet operation of industry whitewash plasterers, to "test compliance of KGC licensees", representing a New Dawn For Kahnawake.


Forget about the Malta LGA, that reknowned Maltese cartel of shady government officials and dark threats, who don't respond to player complaints in anything less than a year, if at all, and who continue to license sportsbooks long after they've stopped paying players - but who are now a new, improved, groovy and cool operation of industry movers and shakers because they've got a hot new director and 335 operations on their books.


Forget about the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, who when just once put to the test, found for the casino because the player obviously abused the bonus, irrespective of the fact that he followed all the rules to the letter.


In fact, you can pick up all those industry fakes and dump them straight in the recycle bin.


Because there's a new man in town, one who doesn't fall over and ask for his tummy to be tickled when an operator tries to pull the wool over his eyes with incoherent, unsubstantiated babbling about "non-recreational players" who were "bad for business", all long after their bets had been accepted and the players had (horror of horrors, kill me now) won.

When this happens, the ASA says "This is what you said, this is what you did, what you did wasn't what you said you'd do, so go take a hike because you're not doing it on our turf".

Wow and double wow. A regulator that does its job. A regulator that, when it says...


Our aim at the ASA is to ensure that consumers do not just enjoy the ads they see, but they can trust them too.



...it actually means it, and stands by its promise by enforcing the rules.


This is some bad news for the online gambling industry if it ever wants to gain a foothold in the United Kingdom. It'll have do what it says it'll do, or face having to stop saying it.


Kahnawake, Malta, Alderney and eCOGRA must be shaking their heads in horror. What will their world come to if their industry ends up having to stand by its promises and pay what it says it'll pay?


Putting the irony aside, it bears reading again the ruling the ASA made, as their clarity of perception is spot on:


We understood that Bet365 excluded a proportion of customers who they deemed to be non-recreational players; however, we considered that without defined criteria, it appeared that Bet365 had excluded customers from the offer when they were winning or were no longer profitable.

We noted the ad did not state that customers who made each-way bets, won frequently on similar bets, or used betting exchanges would be excluded from the offer.

Although we understood that Bet365 believed the viewers were exploiting the offer, in the absence of qualification in the ad to make Bet365s limitations on the offer clear, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.



Job well done, ASA. Job well done indeed.



4 Previous Comments


Aah, so you noticed it then.

By Blogger Sandracer, at 7:25 pm  


Your enthusiasm for the ASA is a little misplaced I feel. They're not a regulator, and all they can do is ask for an advert not to be repeated in exactly the same way as the one complained about.

For example William Hill recently had a complaint against them upheld, because their adverts claim "best prices FACT" based on a comparison that doesn't include Betfair. If it did they wouldn't top the comparison.

http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2010/3/William-Hill-Organisation-Ltd/TF_ADJ_48228.aspx

Even before the adjudication was published they just carried on with the same dishonest claim, but with a disclaimer "not all bookmakers appear in the comparison". So that's perfectly OK apparently.

It's like saying "3 is the smallest whole number, FACT" with a disclaimer in smaller type that "not all numbers were included in the comparison".

The Bet365 advert you're crowing about was back on TV with a disclaimer no one would read the Saturday after this ruling.

By Blogger Alice Klar, at 7:47 pm  


The link you posted is to another successfully upheld complaint - William Hill must not repeat the advert. Obviously, the advert cannot be retrospectively aborted.

As such, this would appear to be another successful ruling in the players' favour.

As to the point of the article, again, the complaint was upheld and the advert must not be repeated. In other words, a successful result.

The ASA "regulates" adverts. Noone is claiming it does anything else, that it handles non-payment complaints or whatever. And it appears to work very successfully within its remit, going by these two cases.

The online gambling industry is built on BS. However, at least in this country it looks like the BS merchants are now being held to account. This is excellent.

By Blogger 100% Gambler, at 11:03 pm  


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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:18 pm  


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