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Christmas comes early for Sportsbet as complaints are dismissed

Sportsbet Merry Puntmas ad

The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has dismissed complaints regarding Sportsbet’s latest Spring Racing Carnival advertising campaign.

One of the ads in the campaign features several men singing Christmas carols at the racetrack, while a voiceover details Sportsbet’s betting app innovation, which allows punters to cancel bets.

Known as The Fold, the new betting option allows punters to get their money back if they’ve made a mistake early on in the race.

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Former Olympic sprinter, Ben Johnson, appears at the end of the ad and interacts with the voiceover.

“It’s new,” he says.

“Haha. It’s Gold. Use the Fold, and have a Merry Puntmas,” the voiceover replies.

While many people have had a problem with the appearance of Johnson in other Sportsbet ads since he is a known drug cheat, the phrase “Merry Puntmas” is what has gotten under anti-gambling campaigners this time.

One complaint stated that the online betting site had reached a new low for tying gambling and Christmas in together, while many others took issue with the use of Puntmas instead of Christmas and the lyric changes to the carol “On the First Day of Christmas”.

Another person said that the ad degrades Christian heritage, while someone else said it was offensive to link “one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar” to gambling.

But the ASB found nothing wrong with the ad and said many people now view “Christmas as a cultural holiday more so than a religious one”.

“[Although] Christmas has significant meaning to some, the use of ‘Puntmas’ in the context of a promotion of a gambling product may be considered tasteless but such a connection of words does not denigrate Christianity or Christians,” the ASB said in its determination.

Sportsbet said that the ads did not degrade any religion, and added that they were created to play on the idea that the Spring Racing Carnival is like Christmas to many.

“References to Christmas in this context is common parlance, such as ‘All your Christmases have come at once’ and ‘It’s like Christmas every day’,” the corporate bookmaker said.

“Playing on the Christmas theme, the advertisements promote that Sportsbet has a range of products and special offers that it is ‘giving’ to customers to use for the Spring Racing Carnival.”

The ASB relies on the Advertising Standards Code, which covers the discrimination or vilification of religion, as well as community health and safety standards among other factors, to determine whether complaints are justified.

Sportsbet added that while they used a popular holiday name celebrated by both religious and non-religious people as a metaphor to promote their services and promotions, it cannot “be viewed as discriminating against, or vilifying, people on account of religion.”

“Although some viewers may not find the advertisement as humorous as some others might (or at all), it certainly does not go so far as to ‘unjustly or prejudicially’ treat any religion, nor does the advertisement ‘abusively disparage’ or ‘revile’ any religion,” the online betting site said.

Sportsbet The Fold

Want to know more about Sportsbet’s The Fold feature? The online betting add-on allows punters to bail out of their bet just after the jump. All you have to do is open your race card, under the “My Bets on this Race” link and tap on the ‘Fold’ icon. You only have a limited time to fold, which is displayed clearly on the race card.

The race card will indicate whether you can use the Fold, as the feature is not available for every event. Punters can only fold once per day, and on Win bets only.

The Fold is available on all mobile platforms including Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, on Australian and New Zealand thoroughbred races. It’s not available on futures markets.

If you like the sound of the innovative betting feature and you are yet to sign up to Sportsbet, follow our links to create an account.