The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against three Bet365 Group companies (collectively Bet365) alleging that Bet365 made misleading representations in breach of the Australian Consumer Law in relation to offers of ‘free bets’ and ‘deposit bonus to new customers who joined up online.
The ACCC alleges that Bet365’s ‘free bets’ and ‘deposit bonus’ offers conveyed the general thrust or dominant message that new customers of Bet365 would be entitled to up to $200 in bets without limitation or restriction. In fact the offers were subject to a number of such conditions that were not prominently displayed.
These conditions included that:
- Consumers must first risk their own deposit to receive a ‘free bet’ or ‘deposit bonus’, so that consumers would only receive a $200 ‘free bet’ or ‘deposit bonus’ if they paid and gambled $200 of their own money first;
- In order to be eligible for the offers, consumers must have gambled three times the value of their deposit and bonus within 90 days before being able to withdraw any winnings. As a result, a consumer who made an initial deposit of $200 and received $200 in bets was required to then gamble $1,200 before being able to withdraw any money;
- To meet the ‘free bet’ or ‘deposit bonus’ terms and conditions, consumers were required to bet at odds of no less than 1.5, meaning that they were required to bet on higher risk transactions.
“The online betting industry is a growing business sector. The Australian Consumer Law applies to this sector in the same way that it applies to other industries and sectors,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The Consumer Law also requires that any conditions, limitations or restrictions should be made clear to the consumer before the purchase rather after a consumer has been unfairly enticed into a transaction.”
“Consumer issues in online trading are an enforcement priority for the ACCC.”
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising, a compliance program and costs.
The ACCC notes that Bet 365 has changed its website since the ACCC contacted it about its concerns.
The first Directions Hearings will be held at 9.30am on 10 October 2014 before Justice Jonathan Beach.
The ACCC proceedings were instituted against Hillside (Australia) New Media Pty Ltd, Hillside (New Media) Limited and Bet365 Group Limited. These companies are part of Bet365 Group, the UK’s biggest online betting provider, which entered the Australian market in early 2013.
Photo credit: Hiten Patel