The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a number of rulings with regards to ‘Matched betting’.
What is ‘matched betting’?
Matched betting is a technique whereby individuals bet on all outcomes of a certain event using free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. By betting on all possible outcomes of a bet – for example, betting on a horse both to win and not to win a race – individuals will be sure to have a winning bet. Where one of those bets was a promotional ‘free bet’ offered by a bookmaker, a profit could be made because the consumer will not have to pay for the stake.
Ensure ads are targeted correctly
While the ASA acknowledges that ads for matched betting services are not gambling in themselves, and so would not be subject to Section 16 of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, the ads do usually give instructions on how to bet. Generally, the ads purpose is to facilitate individuals placing bets and using gambling services, by directing them to a bookmaker and/or betting exchange. Therefore, the ASA will expect that ads for matched betting to be appropriately placed and should not be directed at those aged below 18 years old through the selection of media or context in which they appeared.
In 2023, the ASA investigated complaints an ad that was on a site aimed at university students. The site offered money saving and financial tips, alongside wider lifestyle advice, and so the medium in which the ad appeared would not have been specifically intended for those who were under 18 years of age. However, the site did also feature articles that would be of interest to those aged under 18, such as advice on applying to university. While the advertiser provided some information about the audience, they were unable to provide sufficient data to demonstrate that less than 25% of their total website audience was under 18. Therefore the ASA concluded that the ad was inappropriately targeted and was socially irresponsible (Grip Media Ltd t/a Save the Student, 5 April 2023).
Don’t imply that matched betting is ‘risk free’
While theoretically, the system should eliminate the chance of losing a bet, due to the complications of the processes involved, there was still a chance that individuals could lose money. For example, meeting the requirements to unlock the “free” bets and manually placing the correct bets with separate gambling operators simultaneously, means that the odds may fluctuate in that time, or the bets could be placed erroneously.
The ASA investigated an ad that contained the following claims “Make Money Online with OddsMonkey. OddsMonkey makes it simple for you to earn a tax-free second income” and “you can minimise the risk associated with ordinary betting”. They considered that the ad’s focus on the simplicity and high earning potential of the service, and its relative level of risk by comparison with traditional betting, that the ad was irresponsible and therefore breached the Code (DotNetPages Ltd t/a OddsMonkey, 20 February 2019).
Don’t exaggerate the potential winnings or imply financial security
The CAP Code (Section 16) states that advertisers must not suggest that gambling could be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security. Again, while the ASA acknowledge that matched betting services are not in themselves gambling, the purpose of the service is to facilitate gambling and so ads will be assessed with those rules in mind.
In 2020, the ASA investigated the claim “This is my 45th day of isolation … this money is so welcome as I haven’t earned anything in six weeks …” and considered that this implied the ad was promoting the service as an alternative to gambling. Therefore this was considered to be socially irresponsible and a breach of the Code (Profit Accumulator Ltd t/a Bonus Accumulator, 14 October 2020).
Another ad featured the claims “I have made enough money from bookmakers in just six months to pay for an £860 flight (return) to Australia using matched betting” and “I actually earned 600 quid in less than 2 months”. The ASA considered the ad overstated the likely amount an individual would make from each matched bet, as well as understating the amount of time it would take an individual to earn substantial sums of money. Therefore the ad was found to misleadingly exaggerate the amount of money that an individual could likely expect to make when matched betting (Grip Media Ltd t/a Save the Student, 5 April 2023).
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s Advice Online entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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