ASA reverses ruling on Sky Bet’s Request a Bet ad

10 July 2019

The UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has reversed a previous ruling on a Sky Bet advertisement promoting its Request a Bet service, while the watchdog has also ruled that an advert run by Betfair did not breach its guidelines.

In its original decision on the Sky Bet advert in March, the ASA said the operator may have encouraged irresponsible gambling.

The ad in question featured Sky Sports present Jeff Stelling saying: “Forget ‘anything can happen’, in sport anything does happen. But could it be better? With Request a Bet it could. Spark your sports brain and roll all the possibilities into one bet. Three red cards, seven corners, five goals: lets price that up. Or browse hundreds of request a bets on our app. The possibilities are humongous. How big is your sports noggin? Sky Bet, Britain’s most popular online bookmaker. When the fun stops, stop.”

Two complainants challenged whether the advert implied that those with a good knowledge of sports were likely to experience gambling success, and therefore challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.

The ASA initially agreed with the complainants, saying various elements of the ad meant it placed strong emphasis on how sports knowledge can help improve the chances of betting success.

However, the ASA has now reversed the decision, saying although the advert did contain a number of references to the role of sports knowledge in betting, these would be understood as referencing the potential to use this knowledge when building a complex bet via Request a Bet.

The ASA also noted that the ad focused on the features of Request a Bet and did not consider that it irresponsibly exaggerated the role which sports knowledge played in achieving betting success. In addition, the ASA cited the phrase “in sport anything does happen”, explicitly recognising the uncertain nature of sporting outcomes.

As a result, the ASA has now ruled that the ad was not socially irresponsible and did not breach the CAP Code.

Meanwhile, the ASA has dismissed claims that an advert promoting Betfair was misleading. A single complainant said that ad was not accurate as they were not able to cash out under stated terms within the advert.

The ad, run by Flutter Entertainment on the Betfair website in October of last year, explained how the operator’s Cash Out service works, with customers able to cash out in full part way through the bet or cash out partially, allowing the rest of their funds to run. 

Additional text at the bottom of the page said: “Cash Out is available on selected markets where the orange ‘Cash Out’ symbol is shown. Images are for illustration purposes only. Cash Out is not always guaranteed to be available.”

In response to the complainant, the operator said the cash out feature is sometimes suspended during live sporting events when a major incident takes place. This is necessary to update odds and to prevent people from being able to place bets on events that had just occurred.

Flutter also said it does not have the technical ability to block or suspend the Cash Out feature on an individual bet, and although it would be possible to exclude customers from having access to Cash Out, this was not the case and it has no plans to exercise this right.

In terms of the example given by the complainant, Flutter said in the match, it reopened the match odds after a red card was handed out in the 92nd minute, but all secondary markets remained suspended until the end of the match.

Speaking to the complainant, the operator also noted that Cash Out is not always guaranteed to be available and linked to a page explaining what Cash Out was and how it worked.

The ASA agreed with Flutter, citing information in the advert that stated Cash Out is not always available and the fact that the operator provided links to relevant information on the service when in conversation with the complainant.

“We understood from the information available on Betfair’s website that when changes occurred during an event the market was suspended and cash out offers for single or multiple bets on that market were also suspended,” the ASA said.

“We considered that it was clear from the ad that cash out was not always available and the linked terms and conditions and Sportsbook pages clearly set out the scenarios in which cash out would not be available to consumers.”

As a result, the ASA ruled that the advert was not in breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 (Qualification), and will not take any further action over the matter.