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.
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.
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.