Bet365 fined for "deceptive" free-money offer to Australian players

By David Cook
Bet365 has been fined A$2.75m by the Australian Federal Court for misleading customers through its offer of A$200 in free money.

This follows the court’s finding in September that the operator’s advertising campaign that ran between March 2013 and January 2014 was “misleading and deceptive and involved false representations because there were a number of restrictions and limitations that applied to the offer that were not brought to the customer’s attention”.

A A$200 free bet was offered, but in order to claim the free money, the players were required to deposit and stake A$200 of their own money.

Players also had to stake their deposit as well as the bonus three times before they were able to cash out their winnings, meaning that if the A$200 deposit and A$200 bonus left the player with A$400, this had to be gambled three times.

Overall, a player was required to stake A$1200 before being able to win any money.

The matter was taken to court after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) brought a lawsuit against Bet365, and ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: “In this sense, if the restrictions and limitations had been appropriately brought to consumers’ attention, they would have been able to recognise that there was no ‘free’ bet, particularly given that they had to risk their own money before making such a bet.”

The announcement of the fine comes after the federal government closed a loophole that foreign operators were using to offer in-play sports betting online, despite the fact that in-play betting on sports other than horse racing is only legal via telephone or in betting shops.

Bet365, William Hill and Ladbrokes were all offering in-play services in sports other than horse racing by using mobile apps that utilise smartphone voice recognition technology, as the voiceover technology made it so that the bet was being placed via a phone call.

Bet365 has been ordered to send out a corrective notice via email.

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