The Advertising Standards Agency has banned an e-mail promotion from Betfred, which it concluded was ‘misleading to customers after two separate complaints.
The promotional ‘welcome’ e-mail stated: “BET£10, GET £30 Free on Sports Welcome to the Betfred family, here’s the username you registered with … You are now able to take advantage of our fantastic Stake £10, Get £30 welcome offer! Simple [sic] stake £10 or more at odds of evens or greater in a single transaction and you will receive £30 in free bets! You can use it however you please across any sport ... The bonus will be credited within 48 hours of your qualifying bet being settled”.
The e-mail also included a hyperlink to 'More information' which took consumers to a web page detailing the offer, and also included a hyperlink to the full terms and conditions of the offer, as well as another hyperlink to Betfred’s general “Terms and Conditions” page.
The first complainant claimed that he took up the offer but was unable to claim the free bet, and challenged whether the ad was misleading because they understood it was only applicable if consumers staked at cumulative odds. The second unhappy customers claimed that he was unable to claim the free bet because the offer only applied to a player’s first bet, and argued that this was not made sufficiently clear in the ad.
Betfred claimed that the ad plainly stated that customers had to stake £10 at odds of evens or greater in a single transaction in order to qualify for the free £30 bet. They explained that this condition appeared within the body copy, and that at no point did the ad or its terms and conditions imply that consumers had to bet accumulatively to meet the qualifying requirements.
Betfred stated that if punters wanted to place a cumulative bet, they had to select multiple different outcomes that were unrelated. They noted that although the complainant spent £10 on a single betting slip, they had backed multiple related outcomes, i.e. ‘£5 Portugal v Wales match result. (Portugal win) @ 6/5, £3 Portugal v Wales (Wales win) 3/1, £1 Portugal to win and under 4.5 goals 5/4 and £1 Wales to win and under 4.5 goals 11/4’.
Therefore, those selections could not be combined as one cumulative bet and were recorded as separate transactions. Thus the customer was not eligible for the free bet, because the complainant’s first recorded stake was £5, and they had not met the minimum qualifying bet requirement of £10.
Betfred stated that the complainant’s first bet did not qualify for the offer because the minimum odds of “evens or above” criteria was not met. They stated that the terms and conditions to the offer were one-click away from the ad. Consumers merely had to click on the text “More Info” which directed them to the offer’s terms and conditions page, which included the condition “You must stake £10 or more (or currency equivalent) at cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet …”.
The ASA noted that in the first case, the offer could have been misleading as Betfreds terms and conditions stated “You must stake £10 or more (or currency equivalent) at cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet”, which contradicted the promotion and likely to confuse consumers. However, the case was dismissed, as Betfred supplied ample evidence of allowing customers to bet any way they wanted, providing they still upheld to rules of the cumulative bets.
However, the ASA upheld the second case, claiming that the ad did not make it clear that the offer was only applicable for their first bet: “We considered that this was a significant condition to the offer and should have been included in the main body of the ad, as some consumers may have started betting immediately after registering before reading the “welcome” email.”
The ASA claimed the e-mail was indeed “misleading”. The authoritative body have banned Betfred from issuing the ad again in its current state, and advised the operator to include “relevant applicable significant conditions” in its future promotions.