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Saturday 23 August 2014

Paddy Power comes under fire for Oscar Pistorius murder trial betting

Tomas Jivanda

Published 03/03/2014 | 12:44

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Oscar Pistorius waits for the start of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Herman Verwey, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius waits for the start of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa

A Paddy Power advert promoting a ‘money back if he walks’ offer for bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial has prompted numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, and an online petition for it to be pulled.

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The company had already caused outrage earlier this week by offering odds on the outcome of the premeditated murder trial - 7/4 for a guilty verdict and 2/5 for not guilty - with many Twitter users branding the gimmick ‘vile’ and ‘disgusting’.

Now, the firm has gone even further, by offering losing bets a refund if the 27-year-old is found not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, last year.

Today on Liveline, Paddy Power defended the move to take bets on the trial.

“This is the biggest profile trial that has ever been. It’s the only topic of conversation around the world.”

“It’s to provide customers with the opportunity to bet on something that everyone is talking to.”

Over 700 bets have been placed on the issue already, Mr Power said.

“It’s not going to be a money spinner for us.”

“Our bet is a reflection of where public opinion is on this, much like an opinion poll... the betting will be a reflection of what people think.”

“We’re not betting on murder here. We’re betting on the outcome of a trial.”

“The fact is people are wondering if he’ll be found guilty or not.”

Paddy Power has even put together an advert headlined ‘It’s oscar time’ to promote the offer.

Oddly tied in with the Oscars, it features an Academy Award with the head of the Olympic and Paralympic athlete and the sword removed to make it look like the hands have been bound.

“Global media attention, bar-stool conversation and pillow talk will shift from the Oscars on Sunday night to Oscar on Monday when the Blade Runner straps on his prosthetic limbs for the long walk to the high court,” the firm said in a blogpost.

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Happy to present the offer as an unashamed publicity stunt, it added: “As an international media circus descends on South Africa, Paddy Power's marketing department has entered the fray.”

The ad has however received scathing criticism from anti-domestic violence campaign groups such as Everyday Victim Blaming and Men Against Violence, which have been encouraging people to log complaints with the ASA.

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