the betstar “free bet” offer

It’s the first Tuesday in November. Melbourne Cup day. And as a Melburnian, I stopped along with so many others to watch the “great race”. No, I didn’t have a punt, although I have in years gone by; I simply couldn’t be bothered this year. But this isn’t about horse-racing, nor is it about all the hoopla that surrounds Melbourne’s Spring Carnival each year.

This is about something else altogether.

For the Australian branch of Eskander’s Betstar, today is just about the biggest day of the racing year. It’s the one day where anyone might decide to place a bet; young or old, rich or poor, there’s something iconic about putting money on the Melbourne Cup. And so of course, Betstar (like all the other online betting agencies) were desperate for a piece of that action.

Consequently, Betstar bought online advertising space with Fairfax. The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Brisbane Times and WA Today websites were all plastered with Betstar ads, Betstar odds, and Betstar promotions… at least, their racing pages were. Banner ads, sidebar ads, big ads, small ads, moving, flashing, grabbing your attention. If you were checking any of these sites for racing news and felt like placing a bet, it’s a fair chance that Betstar would have been at the front of your mind.

But that’s where it comes undone.

One of the big promotional offers being pushed by Betstar was a “free bet” of up to $500, if you “join Betstar today”.


Naturally, terms & conditions applied. So being a curious chap, I clicked on the ad and was taken to a Betstar landing page that, once again, pushed the (up to) $500 free bet.

Now, had I wanted to, a few clicks and a few details later, I would have a new Betstar account and theoretically (up to) $500 in free betting money. But I’m more cautious than that. I kept clicking until I reached the “Free Bet Bonuses” terms & conditions, and found that it wasn’t that simple.

Betstar’s fabulous offer was a free bet of 20% of my initial deposit, up to a maximum of $500. So to get that $500, I would have to open an account and deposit $2,500 into it.

There’s more.

I would also have to bet ALL of that $2,500 within 30 days of opening the account to be eligible for the $500. And yes, there were restrictions on the kind of bets that I could place.

Still more.

Even if I did all this, I wouldn’t receive the $500… because I’m in Melbourne. The offer is not available to residents of Victoria or South Australia, for legislative reasons. No sign of THAT on The Age’s website!

And yes, still more.

Once I’ve done all this; moved interstate and spent $2,500 in a month; then I would have to email Betstar to tell them. Otherwise I’d get nothing.

That’s some free offer! It seems that all of the “bonus bet” offers put about by betting agencies work this way… there are always some hoops to jump through in order to get what’s on offer. But I’ll tell you something else… these are the terms & conditions that I reached by clicking through a number of times from the Betstar website’s landing page. But back on the landing page, there was another set of terms & conditions, via a link at the bottom of the page. Click on that link and you come to the “$500 Sign Up Bonus Terms and Conditions” page. This is largely the same set of terms & conditions as the “Free Bet Bonuses” terms & conditions, but there is one very important difference.

According to the “Free Bet Bonuses” terms & conditions, the $500 free bet promotion runs until 28th December 2011.

But according to the “$500 Sign Up Bonus” terms & conditions, the offer expired on 30th September 2011. Over a month ago.

Now, I’ve been in contact with Betstar and they have assured me that this was human error. I accept that assurance.

But I wonder just how many novice gamblers signed up with Betstar today and over the course of the Spring Carnival so far, signed up and poured potentially thousands of dollars into their brand new accounts… with absolutely no chance of getting the bonus that lured them there in the first place?

POSTSCRIPT: as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been in contact with Betstar over this matter since this article was originally published. It now seems likely that they will include state-specific information on their landing pages for promotional offers such as this.

That’s a step in the right direction, and it’s pleasing to see that some elements of the gambling industry are willing to engage in open dialogue. Clubs Australia and many others would do well to take note.


8 Responses

  1. mrtiedt says:

    wow. Assuming that you’re correct, I’d like to see someone call the ACCC and report this kind of skulduggery. Anyone interested in chasing that up?

  2. cyenne says:

    I think I’m right. I have screenshots of both sets of terms & conditions. And the fact that this was advertised on The Age (when the offer wasn’t applicable in Victoria) is indisputable.

  3. SharonC says:

    Absolutely worth putting in a complaint. The more who do, the faster they are likely to investigate.

    Well spotted Tom!

  4. Libby Mitchell says:

    Hi Tom,

    Your article gave me food for thought. Yesterday I opened an account with Centrebet…and although I recall some ‘special offer’ frankly I was more interested in getting a bet on the Cup for my Dad aged 93…whose chosen horse No. 5 would have won ‘squillions’ had it won and I was not prepared to play ‘bookie’ lol!

    I got the site from Google in a search. Not being able to get to a TAB easily in the country, I had to go online, to satisfy Dad’s whim and to save my neck!

    I found the whole experience quite intriguing…the application form itself I wanted to copy, to prove how wrong our Clubs’ claim is that ‘recreational gamblers will go online if venues make them register’ etc! The form was an intensive request for personal ID. It made a mockery of Clubs’ claims that online is ‘no pressure’and ‘anonymous’!

    One thing I also noted was the ability to set a limit. I used the tool…set a limit of $100 and paid $60 into the new account. Needless to say there is now only $10 left…Dad’s horse was nowhere to be seen in the race haha!

    Your article prompted me to delve further, today…and NOW I find that Centrebet is closing down or being taken over? Not such a solid business it seems?

    I am floored. I would not have joined a failing betting site.

    Your claims about Betstar certainly hold water Tom…and yes…make a complaint to the ACCC for sure, I believe. False promotion I think also should be sent to the Advertising Standards Board etc? Just wondering there…but good on you for checking it all out! These sites seem dodgy all up…I wish that I had checked more, too! Raise hell on it in my opinion, since 99 people out of 100 WOULD have been attracted by the ‘false’ offer…especially duped Victorians who could be expected to bet most on the Melbourne Cup?

  5. Sue Pinkerton says:

    I am fairly certain this would contravene South Australian regulations which preclude any SA gambling provider from offering “enticements to gamble”. The Independent Gambling Authority would be the people to speak to about this.

  6. Libby Mitchell says:

    Sounds like a few letters are required here…I am writing to the ACCC / David Bradbury [Treasury]later today or tomorrow Tom.

    Would it help or hinder you if I also mentioned this under your name etc?…It is unrelated to my specific ‘beef’ but it is another aspect of ‘deception / misleading info.’ that I am claiming…concerning the standard of information that consumers and citizens receive about pokies gambling operations.

    Or would it be better if you could write a letter to ACCC etc, copy us all and we can then refer to your letter as well?

    Let me know? Cheers Libby xo

  7. cyenne says:


    I have already set the wheels in motion on a particular course of action regarding Betstar. Probably best that you keep your letters separate from that… organised campaigns can often be dismissed as deceptive/misleading, even when it is really the ads that are just that.

  8. Libby Mitchell says:

    Fine then Tom. It will be very interesting to see what the ‘wheels’ churn out 🙂 Good luck with resolving it. xo

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