We were approached by one of ‘Justice for Punters’ (J4Ps) ‘Friends’ a few weeks ago asking if we thought it was worthwhile complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a Coral TV advert. As people hopefully now recognise we try to tell the truth at ‘J4P’, so we said, “Probably not.”
A version of the advert
This screenshot is preceded by an actor saying, “Don’t bet silly, bet savvy.”
It’s now common knowledge that corporate off-course bookmakers, not just Coral, stake restrict, even close every account where customers bet ‘savvy’ or in a ‘smart’ way, so how can this advert not break advertising laws? Well it doesn’t:
The ASA outcome
Whilst we appreciate your concerns, we have no evidence to suggest that Coral ban accounts for reasons beyond those stated in their terms and conditions, and as such, we lack sufficient grounds to take further action in this case. If you are able to evidence this business practice, we recommend contacting the CMA or Gambling Commission, who would have the legal and regulatory remit to investigate the issue further.
While we won’t take further action this time, we will keep a record of your complaint for reference in our future assessments. We will also take your complaint into account in our regular, proactive ‘intelligence gathering’ sweeps, where we analyse a range of information – including complaints made to us – to spot significant or emerging issues.”
How have the ASA interpreted Coral’s terms and conditions?
J4P has to admit to not reading all the 12,000 plus words in Coral’s terms and conditions, so we may have missed something where Coral does explain what type of betting is acceptable to them and what is not, but this is what we found.
1. Account Closure (By Us)
7.11 We have the right to temporarily freeze Your account (preventing Your use of the Service and the provision of promotional benefits) or permanently close Your account as directed by the Terms and/or at any time and for any reason.
7.12 If requested, You shall be paid the balance of Your funds currently in Your account by a method of payment determined by us. If there are still outstanding bets, where the result is not yet known, then if the bet/s subsequently wins the corresponding sums shall be sent, upon request, once the event has been settled.
7.13 We may withhold any outstanding balance or outstanding bet settlements in respect of Your account in accordance with the provisions of section 7, or otherwise as provided by the Terms. Following account closure, any promotional bonuses, benefits or prizes will be forfeited by You.
2. Placing your bets
12.4 When placing a bet or wager on the Service You must check that the bet instructions are correct before submitting for confirmation. However, with any submission we reserve the right to:
12.4.1 refuse a bet;
12.4.2 accept only part of a bet; or
12.4.3 propose a different stake size or price for the selected bet.
Now call us thick or whatever, but we don’t think it’s clear that people who bet ‘savvy’ at Coral are not welcome, which is certainly the case, so how the ASA came to their decision is anybody’s guess. All J4P can think of is that the ASA thinks, “..permanently close Your account as directed by the Terms and/or at any time and for any reason is enough?
Well, if that’s good enough for the ASA, it’s not good enough for J4P and we suspect most people.
Some important definitions
Shrewdness and practical knowledge; the ability to make good judgements.
Shrewd and knowledgeable; having common sense and good judgement.
A foolish person (often used as a form of address).
Having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish.
When you consider these definitions it further confirms that Coral’s terms and conditions tell the customer nothing about how people who bet in a shrewd and knowledgeable way; by using common sense and good judgement are not welcome at Coral’s website. The only time a person doing this who would be welcome is somebody who is delusional, where the reality is that their thoughts are a fantasy, so not accurate.
The ASA in their ruling state, “We have no evidence to suggest that Coral ban accounts for reasons beyond those stated in their terms and conditions, and as such, we lack sufficient grounds to take further action in this case.”
Coral do not state any specific reasons for banning accounts (restricting stakes or complete closure) except in relation to crime, so this statement means that the ASA, by default, but we’re sure they didn’t mean it, are happy with accounts being closed using any form of discrimination? Coral state, “Account closure (by us)… at any time and for any reason.” No other industry would even think about writing a contract term like this, let alone implement it and be allowed to implement it, at will, by numerous regulators.
This is another decision taken by a regulator who doesn’t understand how the modern online gambling industry works, albeit they obviously know the advertising rules. To make correct decisions you need more than the latter knowledge, you need knowledge of the industry being complained about, because anybody who does what the Coral advert claims will not have an unrestricted online account with Coral for very long, so the advert is misleading, whichever way you look at it.