ASA rules in favour of William Hill

United Kingdom

On 31st October 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) published their ruling in relation to a TV ad run during the World Cup by WHG (International) Ltd (“William Hill”). The ASA ruled in William Hill’s favour, finding the ad did not breach the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (“BCAP”) Code.

The ad

The complainant, a William Hill customer, alleged that the claim "two extra bet boosts available on all World Cup matches" breached rule 3.1 of the BCAP Code, which provides that adverts must not materially mislead, and could not be substantiated because they had stopped receiving them after nine days of the World Cup.

In response, William Hill highlighted that the customer in question was restricted from receiving promotions due to the customer’s abuse of bonuses received over the lifetime of their account and the customer had been made aware of the restriction prior to the ad being aired. In addition, William Hill said the ad did not state “all” customers were entitled to receive the offer and featured superimposed text stating “player/country/currency restrictions & terms apply”, which William Hill believe highlighted that certain players would not be entitled to the offer.

The ASA’s ruling

The ASA considered the ad was unlikely to give the impression that the offer was open to those who had been advised that they were restricted from receiving promotions, taking into consideration the ad did not state that "all" customers could obtain the bet boosts and  given the superimposed text restrictions.

The ASA understood that specific circumstances meant the complainant's account had been restricted. As the particular restriction only applied to certain customers based on their individual circumstances, it was not significant because those customers were likely to be aware of the restrictions that applied to them and, therefore, it was acceptable not to specifically reference it in the ad.

Consequently, the ASA held that the ad was unlikely to mislead and was not in breach of the BCAP code.

The full ruling can be found here.

Key takeaways

This case is a useful reminder that gambling adverts must state when restrictions apply and such restrictions should always be presented clearly.  Specifically, it highlights the importance of not giving the impression that an offer will be available to ALL customers when this in fact not the case and highlighting that player restrictions may apply.  William Hill’s practice of expressly informing the customer that he was no longer eligible to partake in bonuses offered by them was also a persuasive factor in the case.