Complaint against Betfair upheld

A complaint by Straight Statistics against the betting company Betfair has been upheld.

A poster claiming that Betfair’s odds are “40 % better than SP” breached the advertising code, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled, and must not appear again. The ruling appeared yesterday on the ASA website.

 The complaint was brought by Straight Statistics after the Cheltenham Festival in March this year. The organisation challenged the claim made by Betfair, arguing that the natural interpretation most punters would put on it was that if you placed a bet with Betfair, you stood to gain a 40 per cent better return than betting at SP. 

 But, as Betfair itself admits, that would only be true if the punter put a bet on every winner over a given period and compared his returns to those from betting at SP.

Straight Statistics complained that this was misleading, because long-priced horses are much longer-priced on Betfair, and therefore distort returns calculated in this way. The average punter backs a short-priced winner much more often than a long-priced winner. “It follows that this method of comparison misleads punters, greatly exaggerating the Betfair advantage” the complaint said.

The ASA adjudication says that the claim “40 % better than SP” was not qualified in any way and that consumers were likely to infer that such a figure was typical of what they could expect. The figure used by Betfair was skewed and had not been shown to be typically representative of the difference between the Betfair SP and the SP. The claim was likely to mislead.

We are delighted that our claim has been upheld. We are strongly in favour of the punter getting a good deal, but misrepresentation must be stamped on hard.