Coral cleared over World Cup advertising complaint

9 January 2019

The UK Advertising Standard Agency (ASA) has cleared Coral of any wrongdoing over a betting advert that the Campaign for Fairer Gambling challenged for being misleading.

The campaign group flagged up an advert published in the Racing Post on June 16, 2018, featuring a ‘price boost’ on the Fifa World Cup football match between Argentina and Iceland on the same day.

In the ad, Coral offered odds of Lionel Messi (pictured) to score two or more goals at a price of 5/1, with the words ‘WAS 3/1’ struck through underneath. Additional text said punters were limited to a maximum bet of £10 (€11/$13) online and via mobile for a limited time only.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling contacted the ASA, questioning whether both the term ‘price boost’ and the crossed out price of 3/1 were misleading.

Responding to the complaint, Coral said the odds of 3/1 was the standard price when the promotion was introduced. The bookmaker admitted that this price may have fluctuated due to factors such as betting patterns and team news.

Coral noted that the ad had to be filed with the newspaper in advance and this price may have changed upon publishing. The ad featured the disclaimer: "guide price only, prices subject to fluctuation".

The odds on the same bet outside of the offer dipped to 14/5 briefly on June 14 before returning to 3/1, while the price also shortened to 13/5 on the day before the game. The offer remained in place until kick-off, when it was replaced with an in-play market that saw the odds fluctuate throughout he match.

Coral said that the standard priced market moved in a way that made the price boost more advantageous to customers who placed a bet at the offer price.

The ASA ruled that consumers would generally be aware that such odds are subject to change. The regulator said text in the ad referring to the maximum bet of £10 and only being available online and mobile reinforced this statement.

The ASA also said consumers would expect the 3/1 price to have been the main standard market price in the period before the ad was published. It also said consumers would expect this standard price to apply for bets placed outside of the Coral app or website during the boost period.

In addition, the ASA said Coral provided information that showed significantly more bets were placed at the boosted price of 5/1 than at 3/1. The regulator considered the brief fluctuations in the market did not alter the status of 3 /1 as the standard market price in the period before the ad appeared.

Stating that those who did not use the Coral website or app during the boosted period to place a bet did so at the standard market rate, the ASA ruled that it is unlikely the price boost text and 3/1 odds were unlikely to mislead.

The ASA concluded that as Coral did not breach any CAP Code rules, it will not take any further action against the bookmaker.

Image: Oleg Bkhambri (Voltmetro)