The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) finds free bet bonuses with wagering restrictions related to online gambling deceptive at least at some gambling operators. In particular, after having conducted a recent legal action, the body found that Bet365, a well known gambling giant on the Internet, has been misleading new customers with its free bets offer.

Justice Jonathan Beach of the Federal Court ruled against Hillside Australia and Hillside UK in relation to the free bets offer that targets new Australian gamblers. He said that new players were drawn into this “web of deception”. However, ACCC lost against Bet365 Group Limited, the main owner of the two businesses.

In 2013, when Bet365 was launched in Australia, it offered $200 free bets to all new customers that would join the site. However, according to the terms and conditions of the offer, gamblers have to play through their bonus and deposit three times before they request a cashout and withdraw any winnings. In other words, in order to get $200 free bets, new customers must deposit $200 and gamble $1,200 in total before they are allowed to withdraw any money.

The chairman at ACCC, Rod Sims, said that such offers were misleading and lure players to join into the world of online gambling. “Gambling companies cannot use the word “free” in bonus offers to new customers where the terms are not clearly identified what does this “free” mean. This lures inexperienced gamblers to sign up and start gambling,” he added.

There will be another trial to determine what penalties Bet365 will receive.