On 2 May 2018 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) published a ruling on a website advertisement run by matched betting provider DotNetPages Ltd (t/a OddsMonkey). The ASA found that the ad was misleading and in breach of the CAP Code on the basis that its claims were not substantiated sufficiently.
The website, www.oddsmonkey.com, ran a page called "Ben's Matched Betting Diary". Text below the heading stated:
"Welcome to my matched betting blog. I've decided to start the blog to give you an insight on how to make guaranteed profits through matched betting each day. I personally have an aim of £20 a day to hit my target of £600 a month, but usually exceed this. I haven't failed to meet this target for over a year (except when I was on holiday for three weeks last July). I do make the majority of my money from sports betting but also do the casino and bingo offers where time allows."
Alongside dates from the previous month, text which stated "Today's Profit" was followed by amounts ranging from £1.71 to £289.51. Each entry contained a link to a list which set out bets that had been placed that day and the profit obtained.
A complainant believed the character to be fictional and therefore queried whether the impression that similar profits were achievable in real life was misleading and could be substantiated.
The ASA’s decision
The ASA considered that, regardless whether the blogger was real or not, consumers would expect the level of success described in the diary to be typical of the success they were likely to be able to achieve when using the service. As a result, OddsMonkey needed evidence to demonstrate that consumers were likely to be able to achieve such levels of success.
OddsMonkey argued that Ben's Matched Betting Diary was a fair representation of the earnings that could be expected from using the service. They pointed to the fact that other customers with the same level of engagement and commitment as the author behind the blog were actually earning more than the author. In support of this, they supplied details of the profits or losses achieved so far by 1,571 members who used OddsMonkey's profit tracker tool (they said other members chose not to use the tool, and so OddsMonkey did not have access to their records).
The ASA noted that the system of matched betting involved taking advantage of free bets and placing bets with separate gambling operators simultaneously. As such, it was open to human error and winnings could also be refused due to claims of bonus abuse or terms and conditions not being otherwise adhered to. The ASA therefore considered there were several risks facing consumers when placing such bets which could detract from winnings and the success of matched betting. Turning to the evidence supplied by OddsMonkey to substantiate the claim, the ASA held that, as OddsMonkey had customers whose records they did not have access to in addition to the 1,571 members, the claim could not be said to be based on an average of their entire membership. Further, the evidence did not explain what proportion of the 1,571 figure represented, and the ASA also noted that some of this number had made an overall loss, whilst the diary entries showed only winnings.
The ASA held that the evidence supplied by OddsMonkey was insufficient to show that the level of success described in the blog was typical of the success customers were likely to be able to achieve. As a result they concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and was therefore in breach of rules 3.1 (misleading advertising) and 3.7 (substantiation) of the CAP Code.
Click here to see the full ASA ruling.