Bet365 receives penalty

Bet365 fined for misleading free bet offer

The Federal Court of Australia has imposed online betting operator Bet365 with a $2.75 million penalty for misleading new members with their free bets offer. Australian regulatory body, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), successfully argued that the Bet365 sign up bonus bet should not have contained the word ‘free’, and that the stringent turnover requirements of the offer, referred to in our review of Bet365, were not prominent enough in the display of the offer.

The ACCC also took issue with the lack of information surrounding the particularly demanding turnover requirements of the 2013 offer. In particular, that Bet365 didn’t clearly stipulate that the customer must risk their deposit amount three times before withdrawing any winnings. Bet365 did, and still does, have the most demanding turnover requirements of any bonus offer. Free Bet Deals has always clearly published this information, as we feel it is pivotal to evaluating the real value of the offer. Full details of the Federal Court verdict can be found here.

Other bookmakers are likely to be affected by the decision

There are some distinct differences between the Bet365 offer and the new account bonus bets offered by other bookmakers. The ACCC took issue with the fact that in order to receive the ‘free’ bet, the new member had to bet through their deposit amount first. Currently, there are other bookmakers that stipulate this requirement. It will be interesting to watch this space, and see how the wording of welcome offers change as a result of the successful lawsuit against Bet365.

The case has already stirred action from some operators, long before the Federal Court handed down their verdict. Bookmaker Sportsbet altered the wording of their sign up offer, not long after the ACCC launched legal action against Bet365. It now remains to be seen whether or not other bookmakers will follow suit and change the wording of new account free bets to exclude the word ‘free’.

The treatment of new member bonuses is already a contentious issue within the Australian sports wagering industry. Currently, residents of Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Western Australia, are technically not eligible for bonuses, or more accurately; bookmakers are not allowed to lure new members with the offer of a bonus. The result of the Bet365 case will only serve to heighten focus on the welcome bonus space, and likely place even more emphasis on the emerging bet promotion market, where bookmakers are increasing the value and generosity of their promotions to existing clientele.

Although the fine is a setback for the world’s largest bookmaker, the fine is not likely to halt Bet365’s expansion into the Australian market. More likely, it is going to draw more attention to the way bonus bets are worded and advertised by betting agencies.

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