Bet365 Under Scrutiny for Bonus Advertising Practices

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Back in the days when I lived footloose and fancy free and was actually allowed to play online poker from my home in the southeastern United States, I took full advantage of deposit bonuses. I was a bonus whore, as the phrase goes (hell, I even wrote for a now-defunct website called Bonus Whores for a while). It was a lot of fun – deposit a hundred bucks or so, play some poker, end up with more money than when I started, even if I lost at the tables.

Of course, the most important thing when getting set to work on a bonus was to understand all the rules, from specific bonus codes to clearance rates to how raked hands or points are counted. For experienced online players, this is a given, but those new to the internet game might not understand how to navigate these things, especially when they are not glaringly obvious. It appears that an Australian government agency is sensitive to these things too, as it is accusing a popular online gambling site for misleading customers when it comes to deposit bonuses.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a government division that “promotes competition and fair trade,” is taking court action against three Bet365 Group companies, claiming 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.”

In a press release, the ACCC criticized the advertising of a $200 deposit bonus that appears on Bet365’s casino page, saying it, “…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.”

The ACCC goes on to point out the conditions that should come as no surprise to experienced players, but as mentioned before, might be foreign concepts to new players, especially if there is no obvious display of the terms. Players must risk their $200 deposit before receiving the $200 bonus, they must wager three times the value of the deposit AND bonus to be able to withdraw winnings, and players must make higher risk bets to clear the bonus.

“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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The ACCC stated that Bet365 made changes to its website since the ACCC talked to the company about the problem, but it does not look like much as improved. While I, personally, know to take the time to find the terms and conditions of a bonus before depositing, someone new to online gambling might not. The advertisement displayed on the site says “FANTASTIC $200 INITIAL DEPOSIT BONUS,” followed by, “Terms and Conditions Apply.” The problem is, when you click on the ad, it opens a window to have you create an account. It does not display said terms and conditions. It takes a lot of hunting to find them – the way I did it was to click on the “Promotions” tab, then click on “Opening Bonus,” which was found after some scrolling, and finally click on the small “View Terms and Conditions” link.

The first Directions Hearing will be held on October 10th, 2014.

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