The bookmaker has faced a social media backlash for the perceived insensitivity of taking bets on whether or not a man murdered his girlfriend.
One petition asking the company to stop offering the odds had received almost 25,000 supporters at time of going to press.
Paddy Power: Stop betting on the Oscar Pistorius trial & donate profits to a charity fighting violence against women http://t.co/eTHWZ7deLx— Dave Humphrey, freelancer (@davehumphrey) March 3, 2014
Nonetheless, over the weekend, adverts appeared in the media promoting the bookmaker’s campaign.
The advert contained an image of an Academy Award statuette with the South African’s head superimposed upon it. Alongside that was written: “Oscar Time. Money back if he walks. We will refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he is found not guilty”.
A blog on the company’s website read: “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... Paddy Power is joining the debate by offering customers an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is — on the outcome of the murder trial.”
Paddy Power, the firm’s spokesman, said the bookmaker had a long history of offering odds on global stories and said the Pistorius murder trial looked set to be the biggest news story this year. He said the betting would have no impact on the outcome of the trial.
On twitter, however, a number of people expressed anger. “Pretty disgusted that @paddypower are taking bets on whether Pistorius will go free. Hey Paddy Power, a woman died. Her name was Reeva,” wrote one poster.
Independent MEP Nessa Childers also criticised the bookmaker. “I do worry that there are just no boundaries and no limits when I see a big, powerful company like Paddy Power involving itself commercially in the killing of a young woman in South Africa,” she said.