A complaint against Marathonbet regarding two separate Facebook features has not been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after consulting with the sports betting operator and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
The operator posted a Facebook update on 12 August 2020 stating ‘we’re offering 0% margin on the Champions League’, whilst providing a link, with a featured image depicting a footballer holding a trophy alongside text reading “0% margin and best prices on the Champions League’.
Underneath the image was text in a smaller font stating: “Margin applies to certain pre-match markets only. Exact margin subject to fluctuation around 0%.”
In the second Facebook feature in question, a paid-for advertisement seen on 11 October 2020, an image box featured fireworks alongside text stating ‘0% margin on various matches, with smaller font again reading: “Margin applies to certain pre-match markets only. Exact margin subject to fluctuation around 0%.”
The complainant argued that both the paid-for advertisement and company Facebook update were misleading due to the claim “0% margin,” based on the understanding that some small margins would apply.
In response, Marathonbet said that the ‘0% margin claim in both ads was qualified with further text explaining that the margin applied only to certain pre-match markets, which would fluctuate at around 0%.
These odds are provided in simple fractions, and would not necessarily add up to a whole number when decimalised when all outcomes of a single match are put together, meaning odds are offered as close to 0% as practical in a market where there are many different potential outcomes and price points.
Demonstrating how margins fluctuate, Marathonbet supplied the odds time-stamped over several days for an ASA-selected Champions League fixture taking place on 15 August, showing that the margins for bets on this match varied between 0.0011% and 0.0052%.
Seeking consultation from the UKGC, the ASA confirmed that when fractional or decimal odds for sporting outcomes within a betting market are put together it is unlikely to result in a perfect whole number margin.
Additionally, the organisation determined that although margins did fluctuate above 0%, the difference was extremely small, and customers would suffer a guaranteed loss if they wagered on all outcomes at the appropriate levels, something the ASA considered ‘a hypothetical situation that consumers were unlikely to do’.
The ASA stated: “We acknowledged that it might be useful for some consumers to know the bookmakers’ margin in order to work out the best possible chance of profiting from their bets by obtaining the best odds. However, we considered that in practice, consumers were not likely to be materially misled by the difference between a 0% margin and a 0.0052% margin.”
It was ultimately determined that consumers would not be materially misled by the fluctuating margins, and considered that the statements in both advertisements concerning fluctuating margins were sufficient to qualify for the headline claim of 0%.