There’s been a lot of industry media coverage today about the ASA ruling against William Hill Organisation Limited, upholding a complaint that had challenged whether William Hill had made sufficiently clear in a television advertisement a small-print condition that restricted its “2 Clear” 15% free bet bonus promotion solely to horse races which had at least six runners.
The voiceover in the ad contained the statement: “Bet on any live ITV flat race and if your horse wins by 2 lengths or more you’ll get a 15% free bet bonus on your winnings …. available on all live ITV flat races. Online, on mobile and in our shops.” During the ad, the words “free bet bonus” and “Live ITV Flat Races” flashed on screen when referenced in the voice-over. The words “Selected UK flat races. 6+ runners ….” appeared in small print at the bottom of the screen for part of the ad.
Have a look at the ad here and see what you think.
The ASA said in its ruling (that can be downloaded below):
“The ASA considered that consumers would likely interpret the voice over claims “Bet on any live ITV flat race” and “Introducing ‘2 Clear’ from William Hill available on all live ITV flat races” to mean they could get the free bet bonus when they bet on any televised flat race. We noted the on-screen text included the qualification that the bonus was only available for races which had six or more runners. However, we considered that was contradictory to the claims that the bonus was available on “all” or “any” race.
Furthermore, we noted it was common in flat horse races for runners to drop out right up until the beginning of the race. We understood there would be instances where a consumer might decide to place a bet on a race and not know until the start of the race that their bet would no longer be eligible for the bonus as the race no longer had the requisite amount of runners. We considered that this was a significant qualification that should have been prominently included in the main body of the ad and that it was not sufficiently clear for it to be presented in the small text at the bottom of the screen.
Because the qualification in the small print of the ad contradicted the impression created by the voice-over, we concluded the ad was misleading.
Action: The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told William Hill to make significant conditions to offers in their ads clear and to ensure that they do not contradict the claims they qualified”.
For comment on related matters, see our website postings on:
- the need for bonus promotions to be fair and transparent,
- new CAP standards on ‘free’ bets and bonuses that came into immediate effect on 14 February 2018,
- comment by the Gambling Commission that its “research shows the main factor that influences where someone gambles is a company with a reputation for being fair and trustworthy“,
- the Competition and Markets Authority ordering gambling operators to stop unfair promotions, and
- David Clifton’s February 2018 monthly Licensing Expert article for SBC News “Win or lose – do it fairly!”