The rulings from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for 30th March 2016 revealed an upheld complaint about not one but two adverts from William Hill.
Both of the complaints referred to promotions that had appeared on the actual William Hill websites, and both referenced ‘Risk-Free’ bets.
The first of the two adverts was shown on site on 11th December 2015 with the heading £5 Risk-Free With Family Guy – Play Now. The terms and conditions of the offer were shown on the page and can be viewed on the original ruling on the ASA page here.
The second advert appeared on Christmas Day 2015 and had the heading Christmas Cracker – Get £10 Risk-Free On The Pig Wizard. Further text could be seen on the page, and can be viewed on the ASA link above.
The complainant, of which there was just one, suggested that the claim Risk Free in the first advertisement for their casino promotion was misleading because when they played the game they could not get the £5 refund unless they staked more money.
For advert two they also believed it to be misleading but in this instance because they were refused a refund having not staked £10, just £9.80 of their own money and the 80p won on the qualifying game (and lost) was not counted as their own money.
The two complaints were investigated under the following CAP Codes:
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means.
Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.
Both adverts were found to be in breach of all four.
William Hill defended both adverts by saying that the terms and conditions were clear and self-explanatory for both, however the ASA clearly did not believe so.
The ASA considered the wording and other terms for both promotions unclear and contradictory and it is for this reason that both complaints were upheld and William Hill told that the adverts should not appear again in the form complained of.
William Hill were also told to ensure that their terms and conditions for promotions were clearly worded and unambiguous.
The use of the words ‘risk free’ should not be used of the mechanic of the relevant game meant that it was not possible in all cases to stake the required amount and receive a refund without the customer having to stake additional money of their own.