Australia’s Federal Court has found Bet365 guilty of luring new punters with a false “free bets” offer between March 2013 and January 2014, local media reports.
The online gambling giant has been hit with a A$2.8 million penalty for failing to prominently display the conditions, which included that, in order to receive the $200 free bet, new customers had to first deposit and gamble $200 of their own money.
The "free bets" offer also contained conditions where consumers had to first gamble three times the value of their deposit and bonus within 90 days before withdrawing any winnings and had to bet on higher risk transactions.
Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, who took Bet365 to court said the offer was aimed at enticing new customers through what the judge called a "web of deception".
"These penalties should serve as a warning to all businesses that is it not acceptable to promote 'free' offers as a headline offer without ensuring that any restrictions or limitations are disclosed in a prominent way', he said.
Over 73,000 active customers at the time of the breach, with a "significant proportion" affected by the false promotion, according to local media.
According to a Bet365 spokesman, the court acknowledged the issue was linked with an unintentional software error.
"Nevertheless, bet365 regrets that, as a result of this error, it may not have adequately brought to the attention of customers terms and conditions associated with the promotion," he said.
"Bet365 has introduced stricter compliance processes and controls, as well as improved staff training to prevent a similar issue arising again."
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