17th of October 2009 Author: Johnny Karp
Internet gambling company did not clarify that free bets are deducted from winnings
Britain's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) keeps a stern eye on the advertising of gambling firms, and this week it was William Hill Online under the spotlight for a free bet offer that generated a complaint.
The complaint was that the betting company's press advertisements and posters offering new online customers or telephone betters a GBP 100 free bet, did not advise punters that any resulting winnings would be settled without the amount of the free stake being returned.
The ASA agreed with the complainant and ordered WHO not to run the ads again without the necessary changes.
Arguing the case, WHO said T&Cs were pertinent to the advert, and that the removal of the free stake from any winnings did not materially devalue the free offer. The subtraction of the free stake from any winnings was not an unusual or onerous condition, it suggested.
The ASA adjudicator upheld the complaint and noted that the terms of the offer were that punters could claim the promotional GBP 100 of free bets in increments after spending specified amounts on real bets.
'We considered that, because the increments of free bets were only awarded as a result of minimum spends by the consumer; customers would expect those bets to be treated in the same way as any other bet and to get their stake back along with any winnings,' the adjudicator found.
'We noted [that] the terms and conditions on the advertiser's website stated that stakes were not returned on free bets. However, we also noted that information was not included in the ads and considered that was a significant condition likely to affect consumers' decisions to take advantage of the offer in the first instance. We concluded that the omission of this information from the ads was likely to mislead.'
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