The trading body that represents the licensed gambling companies in the UK has warned that the implementation of a ban on various promotions, such as free bet offers, would have a negative effect on punters who bet safely. The body also noted that such a measure would seriously hurt the multi-million-pound funding that is received by British racing every year.
As Casino Guardian previously reported, anti-gambling campaigners have urged the UK Government to suspend special promotions, such as free bet offers, used by gambling companies to attract more customers and raise the engagement of punters, making them spend more money on their services. They have been insisting that the ban is implemented as part of the stricter measures that are expected to be unveiled by the Government as a result of its ongoing gambling legislation review.
Minister Chris Philp has confirmed that the Government is taking into consideration the various inducements and promotional offers used by gambling companies to raise customer engagement.
However, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the body representing the legal gambling sector in the country, has cited a YouGov research, according to which more than two-thirds of British punters (69%) believe free bets should be allowed. Another 63% of the interviewed gamblers consider promotions an important part of betting.
Ban on Free Bets Could Encourage Punters to Migrate to Black Market, UK Gambling Sector Warns
Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, explained that special offers and promotions have always been considered part of the customer experience for any viable industry, especially when the sector is a highly competitive one. The UK gambling industry currently supports about 119,00 jobs and brings tax revenue of approximately £4.4 billion to the Treasury.
Mr Dugher described potential blanket bans on special offers as an anti-punter policy and warned that the implementation of such restrictions would seriously deteriorate customer experience. He cited recent figures, according to which only 0.2% of British adults are categorised as problem gamblers and further noted that such a move could scare away the majority of punters who bet safely. According to the gambling industry’s trade body, the fact that 28% of the YouGov respondents would consider migrating to services offered by black-market gambling operators if free bets were suspended, is even more concerning. Reportedly, black market gambling has rapidly increased in just 2 years, from 220,000 to 460,000 users, who place bets worth billions of pounds.
As mentioned above, the BGC also cited an analysis, according to which the funding of the British racing sector would suffer a loss of approximately £5 million every year because free bets are subject to the tax. The suspension of so-called free bets is among the latest proposed measures offered by the anti-gambling campaigners, along with stricter affordability checks and know-your-customer (KYC) measures.
The CEO of the BGC shared that the gambling industry’s trade body and its members supported the evidence-led approach adopted by the Government to the planned gambling reforms but said that any changes in the regulation of the sector should be carefully considered in order to protect vulnerable people and punters at risk, while not affecting the majority of punters who bet in a safe manner. The UK Government is expected to publish its white paper on the sector’s review next month.