ASA Bans Misleading Bet365 Ads over Free Bets Claim

28th October 2009 9:02 am GMT

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against two press advertisements for online gambling operator Bet365.com, which were found likely to mislead customers because they did not make it clear that to obtain the full amount of free bets advertised, customers were required to spend a substantial amount of their own money first.

Both ads were placed in the Racing Post newspaper, with one ad detailing odds for various football games taking place, while another ad invited readers to place bets on horse racing. Both ads included text stating: "£200 free bets for new customers", with small print at the bottom stating: "Over 18s only. Terms and conditions apply. Please call or see Bet365.com for details."

One complainant challenged whether the ads were misleading because they did not make clear that new customers could only claim the £200 of free bets if they staked a substantial amount of their own money first.

In its defence, Bet365 pointed out that both ads stated that terms and conditions applied to obtaining the free bets and those conditions were clearly detailed on its website. The company said that the terms of the offer were quite complex and that it was not possible to include all of them in the ad.

In addition, Bet365 said that Racing Post readers were an educated betting audience and would understand that in order to obtain the free bets they would need to place a bet of their own.

In its assessment however, the ASA noted that the £200 of free bets were awarded in increments of £25 based on a fixed number of bets and a minimum spend by the customer, and acknowledged from the conditions on Bet365's website that, after staking the first £25 of their own money, new customers received a free bet worth £25.

The ASA said that the remaining £175 of free bets would also be awarded in £25 increments when customers made five bets or more of at least £25, and noted that in order to obtain the full £200 of free bets, customers were required to spend £900.

The ASA considered the minimum spend, the minimum number of bets and the incremental nature of the awards were significant conditions likely to influence consumers' understanding of the offer. The ASA concluded therefore that, because this information was omitted, both ads were likely to mislead, and breached CAP Code clauses 7.1, 7.2 (Truthfulness) and 32.5 (Free offers and free trials).

Bet365 has been told that the ads should not appear again in their current form, and to ensure that significant conditions were detailed in their ads in future.

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