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ASA ruling on ASTOK Ltd t/a TVBet – unsubstantiated superiority claims

Published on 07 August 2020

Did TVBet release ads which were misleading and unverifiable by claiming that they were #1 and that they had the biggest sports jackpot?

The key takeaway

Always take great care with ads which claim that a business or service is “number one” or better than the rest of the market.

The ads

In September 2019, two ads appeared for Astok, a provider of live games to the betting industry: 

  • Ad (a): the first ad, which appeared on a media screen at a “Betting on Sports” trade show, featured the claim “The Biggest Jackpots”
  • Ad (b): the second ad was a press ad seen in the iGaming Times and Gambling Insider. It claimed that TVBet was the “#1 World’s Live-Games Provider”.
The complaint

The ads were challenged by BetGames.tv, who queried whether the claims were misleading and could be substantiated. They also challenged whether they were verifiable

The response

TVBet argued that they had been ranked as number one in a list of live games providers and, as such, the claims were not misleading. They also noted that this information was publicly available at www.logincasino.org and that they would not use these claims in their future advertising.

The decision

The ASA focused on what those using the services would understand from the claims. 

Ad (a)

The ASA considered that businesses would understand the claim “The Biggest Jackpots” to mean that TVBet offered a higher jackpot pay-out than all other live games providers, in relation to all their games. TVBet provided evidence from www.logincasino.org that listed TVBet as the provider offering the highest jackpot pay-out, but only out of 5 providers listed. The ASA noted that it was unclear on what that figure was based and that this information did not satisfactorily substantiate the claim that TVBet offered “The Biggest Jackpots”, as it was likely to be interpreted. The ASA ruled that this claim was misleading and breached the CAP Code.

Ad (b)

The ASA also considered that the claim “#1 World’s Live-Games Provider” would be understood by businesses to mean that TVBet’s live games offering was the bestselling on the market. In order to substantiate this claim, therefore, TVBet had to present evidence that they were the bestselling live games provider across all its games offerings.
TVBet again referred to the ranking from www.logincasino.com. However, this alone was once again insufficient as it only took into account business-to-Business providers of live games. TVBet provider no further evidence to substantiate the claim that they were the best-selling live games provider across all their games offering. Therefore, the ASA concluded that this claim was also misleading and breached the rules 3.1 (Misleading Advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.33 (Comparisons with Identifiable Competitors).

In addition, the ASA ruled that these ads were unverifiable. The CAP Code requires that comparisons with identifiable competitors must include (or link to), information that allows businesses to understand and verify the comparisons. The ASA concluded that these comparative claims by TVBet did not contain or direct businesses to information that could allow them to do this, which was a breach of CAP Code Rule 3.35 (comparisons with identifiable competitors).

Why is this important?

The ruling is a reminder that all comparative superiority claims need to be capable of substantiation, including those which refer to the “biggest” or “number one”.

Any practical tips?

Remember that you always need to provide verification when making comparisons with identifiable competitors. This aspect of compliance is often missed in comparative ads.