Gambling companies that are licensed in Australia are subject to very strict laws about the type of promotions that they can run. For the most part, operators adhere to these laws but there are some cases in which they attempt to run promotions that are not entirely in line with local gambling restrictions – such as Bet365 which has been fined $2.75 million for a ‘free bets’ promotion.
It has taken over a year for a decision to be made, as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) first took Bet365 to court last March. Now, Bet365 has been found in violation ACCC regulations. The promotion has been considered misleading, as it offers players bets that are not entirely free. To receive the $200 worth of free wagers, players would have to deposit and spend $200 of their own money first. Several other conditions were placed on the promotion, including requiring players to gamble their deposit 3 times before being able to withdraw any winnings.
The ACCC argued that the promotion was deceptive, as it advertised free bets but actually required players to spend quite a bit of money. Players who are familiar with online gambling sites may be wise to these kinds of promotions but inexperienced punters are likely to coerced into spending money to receive bets that have been advertised as ‘free’.
“This is particularly relevant in an emerging industry like the online gambling market, where online and print advertisements target consumers who may not previously have used online gambling services,” says Rob Sims, chairman of the ACCC.
In addition to being required to pay $2.75 million in fines, Bet365 has been ordered to send a corrective email to punters. The betting operator has stated that the issue was a software error, and that new controls and compliance processes have been enacted to prevent a similar situation from arising in the future.