by Renee Israel
The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that 888.com's ad
promising free bets through a no-deposit bonus is misleading and thus cannot be
shown in its current form.
The advertising watchdog questioned the 'no strings attached' message put on
in the ad which promises new players £10 free, despite the fact that minimum
withdrawal amounts apply.
The direct mail ad sent to potential 888 players offered them a no deposit
bonus by opening a new account which was already credited with £10. The 888 ad
stipulated that players could "start playing" with this money, without the need
to register or make a deposit and stating that there were "no strings attached".
Complaint Against 888 Ad
The consumer who made the complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority
said that after he opened the account and took up the offer, he found that he
was unable to withdraw his £10.75 which he accumulated as winnings with the free
888 bonus money.
After checking with 888, he was told that he had not reached the "minimum
withdrawal amount" of £30, which is a company policy.
888 explained that the free bet was subject to bonus policy agreements, as
was acceptable in the gambling industry, and that consumers consent to these
terms when they opened an account with 888.com. The group said that players were
told to read the policy before signing up and agreeing to the terms.
Ad Deemed Misleading
Unfortunately, ASA did not agree with 888's explanation and ruled that the ad
was misleading in its present form as it did not specifically note that there is
a minimum amount withdrawal policy.
"We noted that the ad stated 'no deposit... no strings attached'", noted ASA
in its ruling. "We considered it was likely that players whose winnings from the
£10 amounted to less than £30 might want to withdraw them without accumulating
more by placing additional bets."
"We considered the minimum £30 withdrawal policy was a significant condition
likely to influence players' initial decision to take advantage of the offer in
the first place and should have been stated in the ad," said the group. "Because
it was not, we concluded that the ad was misleading."
The advertising watchdog banned 888's ad and said that it breached
rules under the UK Code of Non Broadcast Advertising , Sales Promotion and
Direct Marketing (CAP Code) since the information about the withdrawal policy
and bonus policy had not been stated in the ad.