The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a ruling on two complaints filed against Gibraltar-based parent company of Betfred – Petfre Ltd. Before publishing the ruling, the Authority investigated two issues, one of which was upheld and one was overruled.
The investigation was initiated due to a promotional “welcome” email which the gambling operator Betfred sent to its newly-registered customers. The e-mail, received by users on July 3rd and 6th said that players would get a free bet of £30 by placing a £10 bet on sports. The text of the e-mail also stated that the free bet could be used for betting on whatever sport they liked, and that the bonus would be transferred to their accounts within 48 hours after the qualifying bet was placed.
In addition, a hyperlink saying “More Information” was also included in the e-mail advert. It took customers to a special page about the offer in which another hyperlink was included, which led to the full Terms and Conditions of the promotional offer. There was also a hyperlink to the general Terms and Conditions used by Betfred in regard to the brand’s promotions.
Two members of the public filed complaints regarding the e-mail ad. The first one of them took advantage of the offer, but was eventually unable to claim the free bet. Because of this, the customer claimed that the advert was misleading because they understood that it could have been applied only in case that users placed their bets at cumulative odds. The other complainant was not able to claim the free bet due to the fact that the promotional offer had only been applicable to the first bet of a newly-registered player. They challenged the Advertising Standards Authority, saying that the advert had not made this condition clear enough.
Betfred’s parent company Petfre responded to the accusations, saying that the advert clearly stated that players were required to place a minimum bet of £10 in a single transaction in order to be able to qualify for the free bet of £30. The operator claimed that the condition was clearly visible and the the advert did not state in any form that the players were required to place a bet at cumulative odds. Petfre also provided a list of names of customers who had chosen to place single and cumulative bets on both July 3rd and 6th and received the free bet of £30 as promised.
As for the second complaint, the company explained that the first bet of the customer was not considered as a qualifying one because the user did not met the minimum odds of “evens or above” criteria. The operator explained that the Terms and Conditions of the offer was available at the “More Information” hyperlink. Petfre also emphasized on the fact that the general Terms and Conditions were also available through a clickable link at the bottom of the ad. Still, the company stated that it would made sure all the Terms and Conditions of a specific promotion are included in their e-mail adverts from now on.
The Advertising Standards Authority investigated both issues before it issued its ruling. The first issue was not upheld by the Council, as the latter did not consider the offer as misleading in terms of the odds applicable. The Authority ran the investigation of the ad under CAP Code rules 3.1, 8.1 and 8.2, regarding Misleading advertising and Promotional marketing, respectively, and it did not find the company had breached any of these rules. It said that Betfred had provided exhaustible and adequate evidence proving that the e-mail promotion was not applicable to cumulative bets only, so it could not be considered as misleading.
The second complaint, however, was upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority, as the latter understood the offer was applicable only to new customers who had placed a bet of no less than £10 in a single event. The Council considered as necessary for the company to include the condition that the offer was applicable only to the first bet in order for a user to become eligible for getting the free bet. According to the ASA, the omission of such an important condition could be considered as misleading. At the time of the investigation, the Authority found that the ad breached CAP Code 3.1, 3.9, 8.17 and 8.17.1 rules regarding Misleading advertising and Significant conditions for promotions, respectively.
The Advertising Standards Authority also stated that the ad must not be released in its current form any more and recommended Petfre to make sure their future promotional offers include all significant conditions.