Advertising Standards Authority Updates Guidance on Matched Betting

August 5, 2023 | Gambling
United Kingdom (August 4, 2023) — The Advertising Standards Authority (the “ASA”) has updated its guidance on matched betting. The update follows the ASA’s 2019 rulings in Grip Media Ltd t/a Save the Student and DotNetPages Ltd t/a OddsMonkey (read our CMS Law-Now article here), which were found in breach of the misleading advertising rules in respect of the earning potential and time commitment of matched betting.The ASA acknowledges matched betting services are not gambling in themselves, and so don’t strictly fall within Section 16 (Gambling) of the non-broadcast code of advertising (“CAP Code”). However, because ads for matched betting services do often give instructions on how to bet and typically direct viewers to a bookmaker or betting exchange, the ASA has emphasised the need for matched betting adverts to nonetheless comply with the gambling advertising rules

What is matched betting?

Matched betting is a form of betting through which bets are placed on all outcomes of a certain event  using promotional free bets. By placing bets on every possible outcome of a wager, individuals are guaranteed a win given that there is no stake paid

ASA guidance

The ASA has highlighted three key issues relating to matched betting:

1. Correct targeting of ads

Even though the matching service offered by the promoter is, in itself, not considered gambling, the ads for matched betting typically provide instructions on betting and aim to facilitate individuals using gambling services by directing them to a bookmaker or betting exchange. Consequently, the ASA expects these ads to be placed appropriately, to ensure they are not targeted towards underage consumers.

In the 2023 decision of Grip Media Ltd t/a Save the Student, the ASA investigated a complaint regarding an ad on a website which offered tips for university students. Among other topics, the website featured content relevant to individuals under 18, such as guidance on applying to university. The ASA found that the advertiser failed to provide sufficient data indicating that less than 25% of their website audience was under 18. As a result, the ASA deemed the ad to be inappropriately targeted and socially irresponsible.

2. Labelling of matched betting as ‘risk-free’

Even though matched betting is intended to eliminate the risk of losing money, there is still nevertheless a possibility of financial loss – as the ASA has made clear, factors such as meeting specific requirements and placing bets accurately and simultaneously with different gambling operators can introduce uncertainties.

In the DotNetPages Ltd t/a OddsMonkey ruling, the ASA investigated an ad that made claims about earning a tax-free second income and minimising risk in comparison to traditional betting. They concluded that the ad, with its emphasis on simplicity, high earnings, and lower risk, was irresponsible and violated the CAP Code.

3. Exaggerating winnings

The CAP Code prohibits advertisers from implying that gambling can solve financial problems, act as a substitute for employment, or ensure financial security. Although matched betting services themselves are not considered gambling, their purpose is to facilitate gambling, and ads for matched betting services are assessed based on these rules.

In 2020 (Profit Accumulator Ltd t/a Bonus Accumulator), an investigation by the ASA found that an ad implying matched betting was an alternative to gambling, was socially irresponsible and violated the Code. Similarly, the ASA found that the Save the Student ad overstated the earnings and time frame associated with matched betting, leading to a misleading portrayal of potential earnings. As a result, it was deemed to exaggerate the amount of money individuals could realistically expect to make through matched betting

Next steps

Whilst ASA guidance given by the CAP Executive doesn’t constitute legal advice or bind the ASA, this is nonetheless a useful reminder of the way in which matched betting adverts can fall foul of advertising rules.

Advertisers should ensure, before launching an ad, that the ad will be targeted appropriately, is socially responsible within the spirit of the CAP Code and doesn’t imply matched betting is “risk free”.

Co-authored by Jure Tus, trainee solicitor at CMS


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