Betfair told to “cut out the middle man”

A Betfair TV campaign has been banned after the advertising regulator ruled the claim its fan-to-fan betting structure could boost winnings compared with traditional bookmakers was misleading.

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The Advertising Standards Authority said the ad’s failure to clarify Betfair takes commission on winning bets and its claim that it “cuts out the middle man” could confuse and mislead viewers about the service.

The ad featured two men in a pub discussing a sports match who are interrupted by a third “middle man”, passing comments between the pair before being hit in the face by an animated mouse cursor. A voice-over then stated: “on Betfair, you cut out the middle man, which means you could win bigger”.

The Advertising Standards Authority said that although Betfair’s betting exchange differs from traditional bookmakers, the description “cutting out the middleman” was ambiguous and misleading because the site takes a 5% commission fee on winnings, which could be perceived as a middleman role.

The advertising regulator added that Betfair’s failure to mention its commission structure in the ad could mislead viewers to believing they would not incur any charges.

In response, Betfair said its claims were accurate because its charging mechanism is “more transparent and straightforward than that of a traditional bookmaker” and that the in-ad text stating that terms and conditions applied was sufficient.

It added that its “cut out the middleman” claim was justified because the ad was an illustration of how individuals can bet fan-to-fan rather than through a traditional bookmaker.

The ASA ruled that the ad must not broadcast again in its current form.

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