Bet365 Australia fined $2.75m over free bet promo, wins Bulgaria license

TAGs: Australia, Bet365, Bulgaria

bet365-australia-fine-free-bet-offerOnline betting operator Bet365’s Australian division has been slapped with multimillion dollar fine over a misleading promotion.

On Friday, an Australian federal court slapped Bet365 with a A$2.75m (US $2m) fine for a ‘free bet’ offer that ran for 10 months between 2013-14. The fine represents 10% of the company’s Australian revenue to March 2014, when the promo was pulled.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal proceedings against Bet365 in 2014 following customer complaints about the “$200 free bets to new customers” promo on the company’s website.

The offer required punters to wager their $200 deposit and the bonus three times before being allowed to withdraw any winnings, while also requiring that all of the associated bets be on odds greater than 1.5. Customers complained that the ad made no mention of these requirements.

Bet365 eventually added a “T&C’s Apply” notice to the ad and blamed the omission on an “unintentional software error.” But the ACCC decided to make an example of Bet365 and filed a formal complaint that was upheld by a federal court last September.

ACCC boss Rod Sims applauded the court’s stiff fine, saying it would serve as a deterrent against similar shenanigans. Sims also warned that other operators would be “hearing from us” regarding their own misleading offers.

Bet365 issued a statement saying it had learned from its mistakes and introduced “stricter compliance processes and controls” to avoid future cockups.

In more upbeat Bet365 news, the company’s Malta-licensed subsidiary has just been awarded an online sports betting license in Bulgaria. The State Commission on Gambling (SCG) has given its thumbs-up for the company to begin serving Bulgarian punters via its dot-com site.

Bet365 was one of the first companies to be put on Bulgaria’s online gambling blacklist following the country’s push to regulate its online market. Bet365 applied for a Bulgarian license in 2014 and was awarded one the following year, only to have the license rescinded shortly thereafter for still unexplained reasons.

Bet365 took the SCG to court in order to force it to justify its revocation. On May 18, the Sofia Administrative Court sided with the betting operator and the SCG has duly complied with the court’s wishes. The SCG has now issued online licenses to 10 operators, including Betfair, PokerStars, Eurobet and some domestic firms.


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