Bet365 faces large fines after the Australian Federal Court slammed the online operator for luring novice punters into a â€śweb of deceptionâ€ť when offering them free bets.
The firm advertised â€śfree betsâ€ť but the â€śfalseâ€ť promotion actually required users to spend up to AUS$1,200 before they could unlock the $200 in free bets, according to the court judgement.
Federal Court Justice Jonathan Beach said the strategy used by the Australian and UK arms of Bet365 amounted to customers that were new to online gaming being drawn into a â€śweb of deceptionâ€ť.
The Federal Court ruled in favour of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which had brought the case against Bet365, and ruled that the operator had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: â€śThis judgment makes it clear that companies cannot use the word 'free' in offers to consumers where any conditions that seek to neutralise the 'free' nature of the offer are not clearly identified.
â€śInducements like free bets run the risk of signing up new and inexperienced gamblers based on a deceptive claim.
â€śCompliance with the Australian Consumer Law is essential for all companies that sell to Australian consumers, regardless of geographic location.
â€śBet365 in the UK provided support to the Australian company including finance, customer service, and the Bet365 website.â€ť
Penalties will be determined at a further hearing in the Federal Court.