Newsletter 11

14 May 2012

The rules governing marketing of bonus

This newsletter of 14 May 2012 concerns which rules are applicable, when licence holders advertise and offer bonus to the players.

The Danish Gambling Authority receives quite a few complaints from players and others concerning offer of e.g. welcome bonus. The Danish Gambling Authority pays a great deal of attention to the licence holders' marketing and offer of bonus, in particular with regard to the objective of consumer protection of the Gambling Act. Quite a lot of marketing and offer of bonus are in our immediate point of view not compliant with the rules.

In that respect the Danish Gambling Authority will provide guidance concerning the rules of marketing and offer of bonus.

The rules of bonus

The rules of bonus are to be found in the executive orders concerning land-based betting, online betting and online casino. The provisions are identical in all three executive orders and have the following wording:

Should a licence holder offer the player a bonus for participating in a game, all the conditions shall be explained in a clear, lucid manner within the immediate context of the offer. Payment of a bonus to the player shall occur immediately when the conditions are satisfied.

Subsection 2. Bonuses shall not be given to individual players on terms that differ from deals given to other players.

Subsection 3. The player shall have at least 60 days to meet any conditions associated with the payment of a bonus.

The provisions are punishable by fine.

When are conditions explained in a clear and lucid manner?

The requirement of the conditions to be explained in a clear and lucid manner means in general that any restrictions, conditions or exceptions must be correct, clearly phrased and relevant. If an offer has significant restrictions or concerns products with a complicated price structure and/or contract terms the requirement of the condition being clear is aggravated.

Any additional costs which must be paid to obtain the bonus, e.g. if the player has to pay (play) the amount a number of times, must in general be stated.

The player has to be given the opportunity to estimate the advantages and the disadvantages in the conditions or restrictions offered with the bonus, based on an actual and well-enlightened foundation before purchasing the service.

In a lucid manner means that any conditions, terms, restrictions, exceptions etc. related to the offer must be marketed in the same way as the offer.

When are the conditions explained within the immediate context of the offer?

The conditions must be explained within the immediate context of the offer, i.e. the player should be able to immediately and easily understand the applicable conditions before agreeing on a bonus.

As a rule this means at the same time and in the same medium in which the marketing activity takes place. The more specific requirements can vary depending on the medium, in which the marketing is taken place.

In general the requirements of lucid manner within the immediate context of the offer are in force, regardless of the medium.

The requirement of immediate context has to be met both in the marketing as well as in the moment of buying in order to ensure transparency, so the player can make a decision to pay or not to pay the ante on a well-enlightened foundation.

Normally it will not be sufficient to refer to find further information concerning the conditions and terms on a website when marketing and offering a bonus.

Transient media, e.g. television
It is crucial that the advertisement, including an offer of bonus, is described in a clear, loyal and well balanced manner regarding advantages and disadvantages which must be marketed in the same way as the offer.

Traditional marketing, e.g. advertisement in a daily paper
It will not be sufficient in an advertisement in e.g. a newspaper to refer to a website where further conditions and terms can be found. The conditions and terms must be evident from the advertisement itself.

Electronic marketing, e.g. internet and e-mails
The requirement of immediate context is met when the information is evident directly from e.g. the website or the e-mail. Given the circumstances it can furthermore be acceptable to be referred to find the information via the same medium, but only with one "click", where the conditions and terms must be found in full and in a clear way.

The Danish Gambling Authority will take into account if the offer is described in a clear, loyal and well balanced manner at the first presentation, just as it must be clearly stated if any conditions and terms are attached to the offer of bonus.

Marketing via text messaging
The requirement of immediate context can be met by referring the consumer to a voicemail or to send a text message to a certain number to get another text message send, in which the conditions can be found. It must be a free call or the call must be only at ordinary cost. By the use of this form of communication the offer must also be described in a clear, loyal and well balanced manner in regard to advantages and disadvantages.

Interpretation of the rules

The rules of bonus must according to the Danish Gambling Authority be inter-preted in accordance with case law of section 9 of the Danish Marketing Practices Act concerning sales promotion which the Danish Consumer Ombudsman supervises compliance with.

The section reads as follows:

Section 9. A sales promotion, including by means of gifts with purchase, trading stamps, discount or loyalty schemes, prize competitions and the like, must be presented in such a way that the terms of offer are clear, unambiguous and easily accessible to the consumer, and in general no material information may be omitted, including information on the value of any additional services likely to materially distort the economic behaviour of consumers.

For further information

Section 9 of the Danish Marketing Practices Act was clarified in 2011 to ensure that consumers are able to see through any offer by using sales promotion.

Therefore it is possible to obtain more knowledge and concrete examples in the legislative history of amending the Danish Marketing Practices Act. You will find the amendment below (only available in Danish).

Amendment of the Danish Marketing Practices Act