82% of Players Say Gambling Sites Should Offer Free Bets: BGC

82% of Players Say Gambling Sites Should Offer Free Bets: BGC

A new Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) commissioned YouGov poll has revealed that 82% of players say gambling sites should be allowed to offer bonuses, including free bets. The survey aimed to assess how much players like bonuses and the impact of regulations on the gambling sector.

It also asked respondents if a ban on promotions was brought in, would they gamble offshore; 54% responded yes. The motivations of these respondents would be to access promotions.

BGC CEO Michael Druger (who has previously been extremely vocal regarding the new regulations expected to be published in the upcoming White Paper, which is part of the Government’s Gambling Review) has said that the survey confirms that players like bonuses, adding the market is very competitive, with most consumers using multiple sites to gamble.

He commented, “This survey reinforces what anyone who knows anything about betting already understands – that betting customers, just like consumers of any other product, value offers like small free bets which are subject to strict controls and restrictions to protect the vulnerable.“

Drugher warned that restricting offers, like free bets, would negatively impact punters and their gambling experience, likely increasing the percentage of consumers gambling offshore at unlicensed casinos outside of UK regulations and safety protocols.

This is not the first time the BGC has warned of the potentially dire consequences of more strict regulations due to the Gambling Review. Previous research commissioned by the Council, which is made up of 90% of UK gambling operators, has shown that the size of the UK offshore gambling market has doubled in recent years in correlation with increasing regulations; that 79% of gamblers would move offshore if affordability checks become mandatory; and that two-thirds of gamblers believe spending limits for consumers would expand offshore gambling.

The BGC puts forward a very clear line of argument that more regulations will drive players offshore, removing revenue and tax from the legal UK market and putting players at greater risk. However, in many cases, the questions put to punters in BGC polls are too black and white.

This has, in part, been caused by the many delays in the publication of the government’s white paper, leading to speculation and concern among players and operators regarding how strict the potential new rules will be and, in part, due to commercial considerations.

The BGC has not played the part of calming fears by asking reasonable questions or encouraging rational debate. For example, it’s not expected that Gambling Review will cancel bonuses and promotions or ban free bets.

Still, bonus reform is on the cards (which is nothing new, the UKGC has been continually updating its guidance of clear and transparent bonus terms since the get-go).

The gambling review seeks to increase player safety (and update gambling laws for the modern age), such as targeting high wagering requirements, which can encourage “excessive gambling” in short periods.

If the survey had asked whether players like free bets with 50x wagering applied to any winnings or prefer free bets with 1x wagering requirements, we’re confident players would opt for the latter.

Instead of getting to the heart of the issue, the BGC has once again polarised the debate and shown a business-first attitude towards responsible gaming, one of many reasons the gambling review is warranted.

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