ASA Ruling Shows Why UK Bettors Need To Read Fine Print of Offers


One of the themes you’ll see us constantly harp on here at is the importance of reading the fine print before accepting any bonus offer. In the highly competitive online betting industry, advertisers are constantly searching for new ways to attract customers. Sometimes, even the most highly-respected betting sites find themselves in trouble after releasing an ad that doesn’t go over well.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulates all advertising in the United Kingdom both online and offline. Whenever they spot an ad that is misleading or irresponsible, the ASA jumps into action to contact the advertiser and have the ad removed.

The ASA also maintains a publicly accessible database of rulings against advertisers that anyone can browse to see ads that were deemed unacceptable for one reason or another. In most cases, the offending ad isn’t outright lying; it’s usually an issue of burying some important term or condition in the “fine print” area.

Ladbrokes Reprimanded by Advertising Standards Authority

Just last week, for example, Ladbrokes Casino was reprimanded for a bonus offer it sent out to customers via e-mail back in April. In the offer, Ladbrokes offered existing customers a bonus in return for making a new deposit.

The offending ad told customers that they could deposit £35 to get £5, deposit £60 to get £10 or deposit £100 to get £20. The ad also included a little bit of text explaining that the deposit and bonus amount would need to be wagered five times before withdrawing the bonus and any winnings earned by wagering the bonus.

A little further down in the e-mail, Ladbrokes provided links to additional terms and conditions pages. Inside those pages were two terms in particular that triggered the ASA to step in:

  1. Some games (such as blackjack) only count partially towards meeting the rollover requirements
  2. The bonus would be voided if a player bet more than 30% of the bonus amount in a single game or round on any casino game

This is actually an extremely average bonus by online betting standards. However, the ASA did not approve of this particular ad because regulators deemed those two terms to be important enough that they should have been mentioned more prominently within the actual bonus offer.

In the ASA’s own words, both of those terms were significant conditions of the offer that were “likely to influence consumers’ decisions or understanding about the promotion, and should have been made clear in the ad.”

Note for anyone not familiar with the phrase “clearing requirements”: Clearing requirements are a part of nearly every bonus ever offered by a betting site. In short, what this means is you are required to place a certain amount of wagers before you can withdraw the bonus or any money won by wagering the bonus money. Also note that many betting sites use the term “rollover” to describe the same thing.

For example, a £10 bonus with a 5x rollover would require you to place a total sum of bets equal to £50 before initiating a withdrawal.

It is also quite common for certain games to be either excluded entirely from counting towards the wagering requirements or to only count partially. If a casino says bets placed on blackjack only count 20%, it would mean a £5 bet on blackjack would only count £1 toward the wagering requirements.

Ladbrokes Are Not Bad People, But the Point Stands

The promotion that got Ladbrokes in trouble with the ASA could have been more clearly explained, but it doesn’t quite qualify as a crime against humanity. Overall, Ladbrokes has proven to be a reputable bookmaker with many happy customers. Even so, the point stands: you should always read the terms and conditions before you accept any bonus offer.

Furthermore, you shouldn’t just read the terms and conditions that are printed right there on the offer itself; you should also make sure to click through any links that that point you to “additional terms and conditions.”

The term about certain casino games only counting partially towards clearing requirements is very common in online casino bonuses. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw a casino bonus that didn’t treat games such as blackjack and baccarat differently for the purposes of meeting the clearing requirements.

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