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Bet365 Fiasco And An Insight Into What Free Offers Really Means

  • Published date22 June 2016

The fiasco created by the much maligned “$200 FREE BETS FOR NEW CUSTOMERS” offer of Bet365 has assumed giant proportions. The marketing strategy succeeded in luring a number of Australian buyers, but the Australian Consumer Law sees red. The company is in rough waters and a lawsuit is set to be initiated. The Federal Court of Australia ruled the “FREE BETS” offer was grossly misleading and can be termed as false representations of fact.

The Loopholes

The terms and conditions associated with the much maligned “FREE BETS” offer are:

  • The customers needed to pay an amount and risk that before he can make any gain.
  • The buyer had to risk thrice the amount of deposit made by him or her before making a withdrawal
  • A 90 day limit was applicable
  • The free bet value was actually limited by the first deposit made by the customer

These conditions, as per views of Justice Beach should have been displayed clearly on Free Bets Opening Page online. The market strategy was deployed in a way to make the customer make the first deposit and then the terms and conditions would be displayed.

The Legal Perspective

The Federal Court, represented by Justice Beach pointed out the following aspects of the offer while dubbing it as misleading:

  • The word Free makes a strong impact on consumers.
  • It is necessary to clarify terms and conditions so that people can understand what exactly is denoted by free.
  • The Bet365 offer was not clear and key conditions were not shown on Free Bets Opening Page

Owing to these observations, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ordered Hillside Australia to cough up a fine of $1,500,000. It was also asked to send a corrective notice via email to all individuals who got lured by the “FREE BETS” offer. Hillside UK, responsible for marketing and preparing promotional stuff and terms and conditions, was asked to pay $1,250,000 as pecuniary penalty.

The “FREE BETS” marketing strategy was quite successful as the Federal Court pointed out. Hillside Australia’s revenues and active users had shot up after the offer was unveiled. Bet365 however, said that the benefit was accidental and caused by software errors than any deliberate plan. Justice Beach concluded that the error is not a deliberate reckless act by Bet365 and software errors can take place unexpectedly at times. But the entity still can be held liable for not using apt software and systems.

Summing It All Up

Whether the fiasco was created by a software glitch or it was cleverly camouflaged marketing trick, one thing is clear. No bet comes for free and there are always some underlying conditions or other. The word ‘free’ acts as a stimulant in people’s mind and the human desire to get something for nothing is hard to resist. The rationality gets overshadowed by greed mostly.

However, the fiasco and its outcome would serve as a warning to marketers. Any offer without clearly displayed ‘Terms & Conditions’ can lead to legal turmoil and penalty.

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