Australian news broadcaster ABC has published a detailed report investigating the marketing strategies of sportsbet.com.au, discovering that the online operator has upwards of 600 affiliates.

Affiliates and media marketing companies pocketed more than $111 million of Sportsbet’s promotional spend in the five-and-half-years to June 2018, but one of its former affiliates came forward to claim there is a great mistrust of the company among smaller players.

Daniel Kirk explained that, from 2013, Sportsbet introduced changes to the terms of its affiliate deals that effectively left the operators of many small websites, including his own, without incomes.

“Sportsbet do prey upon taking advantage of people losing and avoiding people that might beat them,” he said. “At the end of the day they were just thinking about how they were going to save their business money.”

Lauren Levin, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Financial Counselling Australia, told ABC that there was a much greater need to regulate affiliates: “The affiliates, if they’re acting rationally, would be encouraging a person to keep losing because they only get paid when the person loses.”

A Sportsbet spokesman said the company made significant changes to its affiliate program in 2016, which led to a 90% reduction in affiliates.

The report also accuses Sportsbet’s “aggressive marketing strategy” of breaching state gambling laws, claiming “the company has repeatedly offered unlawful inducements like bonus bet offers — where new bettors are offered bets for free — to new customers”.

Sportsbet was in the news at the tail-end of 2018, when one of its ads received a record number of complaints.

Access the full report here.