Bonus & Free Bet Ban

Michael Kruse / 11 December 2018

Last Updated on 1 January 2024

Wow, Bonus Bets Banned. If you’ve been flying below the radar the last few days then you might not realise the big event that is occurring in the online betting world.

Huge changes have happened to the advertising of gambling inducements including all free bets and bonus bets.

Under the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering (NCPF). places a restriction on “online wagering providers… offering any credit, voucher, reward or another benefit as an incentive to open an account or to refer another person to open an account”.

The Australian Government has made the ruling that the advertising of bonus bets or any other type of betting mechanism related to bonus activity is to be banned.

Every online betting agency has their set of market tools which they use to entice new punters.

For instance, NEDS have their toolkit product which they promoted a few weeks ago.

Other agencies do much the same thing but are promoted differently.

The major attraction for a new punter is that betting agencies will add their money to the pot as an enticement, with any winnings being offered up as free bonus bets on future races.

You see these in their various flavours of banner ads.

A lot of these promotions do have their conditions though. Agencies don’t want to concede too much ground.

Getting a new punter through the door is hard enough as it is. Any punter worth his or her salt will know this already.

As of next year all the banner ads that you see on betting, affiliate and media sites will disappear. Some people will love it, some won’t.

Those who are running affiliate businesses will loathe it. The number of new sign ups will determine how much income they make. That income stream may dry up completely. Will their businesses be sustainable in the long term?

Let’s look at the major players who are influenced by this Government decision.

The Government

The Australian Federal Government acts as an arbiter to some degree across all racing and wagering industry issues throughout the country.

Not just horse racing, but all forms of sports betting, and other associated issues like equine quarantine through the Agricultural sector.

On this occasion it looks like they’ve stepped up to the plate, with Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) having a major hand in designing the proposed reforms alongside heavyweight industry players.

But is this really what it’s all about? Could this be the start of several engagements to put online agencies into a virtual sleeper-hold with bonus bets banned?


Tabcorp is a privately run organisation, though it has tentacles back to the Government through it’s various licensing arrangements.

Probably more so than the other betting agencies. Anything they do has a direct impact on the overall industry, effectively being the biggest online betting agency in Australia.

Unfortunately for them, they have not escaped the wrath of RWA. They too are impacted by the Government decision and are treated no differently than other online agencies regarding the.

Tabcorp have a monopoly in one area and that is Sky Racing TV, and the scheduling of races right across the nation is determined by them in the main.

However, they don’t have control of the overall online betting market despite being the biggest player with the.

In recent times, they’ve picked up Queensland’s market ex U-Bet, and market insiders would agree that they are in the best position to consolidate interstate tote business if the opportunity arises.

Both South Australia and Western Australia could be in the gun. By becoming the largest player, Tabcorp also attracts unwanted attention from the likes of RWA and other Government agencies, so it’s not all champagne and chocolates for them.

Other Betting Agencies

Over the last few years we’ve seen newcomers make their presence felt in the online market. We’ve seen mergers and depatures. For example, Luxbet and Tom Waterhouse have gone. Crownbet and William Hill have merged, while NEDS is a recent arrival.

One could say that with so many foreign owned betting agencies in Australia that the market has become diluted. Each offer different prices, odds, promotional strategies etc. A punter has to choose between trusting their own form or using point and click methods pre-made by the online agency to lock away your bet.

It then becomes a game of cat-and-mouse between punter and online agency. There are two things that most industry insiders will already know, so I’ll just summarise them here:

  1. What does the betting agency do to maintain repeat business for punters who continually invest and lose money?
  2. What is their agenda when it comes to punters who are successful and how do they minimise their losses?

Many punters play one agency off against the other. Either looking for a better price, better service or better tools to use online, particularly mobile.

Most serious punters are signed up to multiple online agencies anyway, and use mobile apps to control which one has the best price through the ‘compared odds’ feature which some apps provide.

For those punters that continually lose money the agency will just see you as a repeat customer and need to do very little to maintain the relationship.

A few emails here and there announcing promotions etc is all they need to do to retain engagement and interest.

Nonetheless, you are considered to be ‘repeat business’ despite the ‘gamble responsibly’ message displayed everywhere.

I’m guessing this is also the area that RWA are focused on, including a new national self-exclusion register/scheme, which effectively enables punters to ban themselves either on a computer or mobile if addiction becomes self-evident. Strange but true.

For those punters who are very successful, expect to see your account become restricted, frozen, or at the very worst, terminated completely. That is how betting agencies mitigate risk. Such punters are considered bad for business.

It would appear that online agencies do share customer data among themselves so that if punters do jump ship there won’t be an advantage by doing so. They would be forced offline. This could be an indirect win for the RWA as well, though more than likely successful punters will just take their business on-course and bet in cash.

Considering the number of players in the online betting industry, my gut feel is they are all cannibalising each other. It does give the appearance of the wild west at times, which is half the reason why RWA has put these reforms in place.

The Australian racing market is significant from a turnover perspective. Still, agencies need to supplement their activity with other sports and wagering opportunities because there are only certain race days of the year where turnover is huge.

RWA hasn’t solely focused on horse racing, other racing codes are affected, so too other sports.

Other Players

As mentioned above, affiliate businesses will be required by law to stop advertising bonus bets on their websites, so too media operations like, Racenet,, along with many others.

This will drastically change the betting landscape, whether for better or worse remains to be seen. We won’t know the impact for at least a year after its implementation.

In Summary

Let’s face it, humanity has been gambling in one form or another since the time of the Neanderthals.

We’ve been taking chances like forever and that won’t change anytime soon. It’s all part of the human condition.

We’re hardwired to gamble, hereditary even. Much like a survival strategy developed over millennia though I’m certain the RWA didn’t take that into account when drafting their reforms.

So if anyone is thinking that removing bonus bets is a ‘gamble responsibly’ campaign against punting in Australia, think again.

The intent is admirable, but I’m not convinced that RWA truly understands the psyche of the Australian punter. If they did that would be half the battle won. Until then, we’ll all adopt a wait and see approach regarding the bonus bets banned.

Michael Kruse
Michael loves all things all horse racing and has been in the game for quite some time. His knowledge in the betting space is second... [Read full bio]

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