BGC urges UK ministers against ban on free bet promotions

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The Betting and Gaming Council has urged UK ministers to consider responsible bettors when deciding whether or not to prohibit free bets and promotions as it could cause a shift to the unregulated market.

The BGC recently commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey where it reportedly discovered that 82 per cent of bettors believe betting operators “should be allowed to offer promotions such as free bets” to their customers.

Over half of the survey’s respondents (54 per cent) also think if promotions were prohibited, it would push bettors towards the unregulated market where such promotions would still exist.

“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,” commented Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council.

“The market for betting is hyper-competitive with most customers using a number of different operators. Banning or severely restricting free bets would be another attack on the punter, it degrades the customer experience, and it also hurts business and that jeopardises jobs. 

“What’s more, as this survey makes clear, if promotions are restricted or banned, there’s only one place punters will go, that’s the growing, unsafe, unregulated gambling black market.”

The findings of the survey are released as the Cheltenham Festival begins, one of the UK’s biggest horse racing events of the year that sees attendances close to 274,000, with millions watching online.

The festival is expected to generate £274m for the local economy, while bettors are estimated to wager £1bn across the four-day event which includes 20 hours of live TV coverage and around one million daily viewers.

Campaigners have called for heavy restrictions or outright bans on promotional offers to be included in the UK government’s upcoming betting and gaming reforms.

However, Dugher has stated that ministers must consider responsible bettors when deciding whether or not to prohibit free bets and promotions.

“Ministers should consider the millions of responsible punters enjoying a bet during Cheltenham and not bring in draconian measures in a weak attempt to further placate the tiny minority of anti-gambling prohibitionists.”