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 Advertising Standards Authority.
The Betting and Gaming section of the Code does not deal specifically with bookmakers or betting tipsters. The ASA receives many complaints about the latter category and, because the problem was becoming so widespread, CAP has issued guidance to the industry in the form of a formal Advertising Guidance note. Complaints about betting tipsters are usually about whether the advertiser has predicted the winners they claim, whether they have exaggerated the level of winnings and whether they have selected either the period or the horses to give themselves an artificial advantage. Here are some ways of ensuring your claims are sufficiently well-supported.
Don’t imply that past winnings are indicativeA press ad stating "Over £2800* profit in just a couple of weeks” was ruled against after the advertisers were unable to substantiate that this amount was indicative of the usual winnings that following their tips would yield (Isiris Racing Services, 13 August 2014). Although they could substantiate that they had made profits over this period, they were found to have chosen the specific winning period in order to artificially inflate their apparent winnings, and the complaint was upheld. While advertisers are entitled to refer to their past successes, they should ensure such claims are fully substantiated and should avoid implying that these successes are typical or indicative.
Don’t imply that success is guaranteedBetting tipsters should quote after-tax figures and should not state or imply that success is “guaranteed” (Streetwise Publications Ltd, 17 December 2014). Marketers should not claim players will be so successful that they can forge a long-term profit by using the betting system (Ian Bailey Racing, 19 December 2012). They should also avoid claiming that their forecasts are very likely or certain to win, or that their service is very likely to turn a profit. Therefore referring to tipster services as a "serious investment opportunity" or similar is very likely to be considered problematic (Isiris Racing Services, 20 June 2012).
Only refer to previous wins that you’ve registered with an independent bodyBetting tipsters who want to claim either that they have predicted winners in the past or that they have returned a profit for their clients over a stated period must “proof” their advice with an independent body. That means they should register the recommended bet with a demonstrably independent body before the race so its accuracy can be confirmed after the race. Incomplete proofing information, even when a recommendation has been registered with a suitable independent body, would not be considered acceptable (Isiris Racing Services, 10 June 2015).
Where a publisher could benefit from a marketer’s advertising revenue, there is a risk that they wouldn’t be considered sufficiently independent. However, the ASA has previously accepted records of ‘proofing’ e-mails submitted to the Racing Post before each race, which were submitted alongside screenshots of the relevant bookies’ websites confirming the availability of the relevant bets (Peter Naughton, 3 July 2013). On these grounds, the ASA ruled that they held sufficient documentation to verify past predictions. Well-known and reputable accounting firms (but not individual accountants) or solicitors may also be acceptable (Tommo Racing, 12 March 2014).
Make sure odds are available for a significant amount of time after they’ve been tippedSince odds can often change in the run-up before a race, tipsters should make sure they can demonstrate that the odds their selections were tipped at remained available for a significant amount of time after the tips became available. This should be long enough for consumers to have a reasonable opportunity to back the selections at these odds. After receiving a complaint that a consumer wasn’t able to place a bet at the tipster’s advertised odds, despite the fact they called as soon as the tip became available, the ASA ruled that a betting tipster was unable to prove that their promoted odds were available long enough for consumers to place bets and achieve a profit (Isiris Racing Services, 1 May 2013). In another investigation, the ASA established that the ‘starting price’ odds available when the races began were less favourable than the tipped price odds recommended to consumers (Isiris Racing Services, 25 November 2015). Because they couldn’t demonstrate that consumers had the chance to bet at these odds, the complaint was upheld.
Be responsibleSince the use of tipster services involves financial risk, marketers should avoid presenting their products as easy solution to financial concerns or playing on consumers’ fears. An ad that referred the global credit crunch and the threats associated with economic recession was found to breach the Code on these grounds (Premier, 21 August 2013). Advertisers should take care to ensure that their services are always promoted in a socially responsible manner.