The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), a trade group for UK gaming operators, is calling a proposed ban on free bets “draconian” and suggest that it would only boost black market play. It’s the latest salvo in a battle for the future of UK gaming ahead of a white paper report that promises to bring major changes to the way UK operators do business.
As of this writing, there’s been no official word on whether or not free bets will be banned when lawmakers update the Gambling Act of 2005, but the BGC isn’t taking any chances. They’ve launched a serious PR campaign to shift the public’s mood that includes plenty of hard data, including a survey from YouGov.
YouGov’s survey found that 69 percent of players want operators to be able to continue offering free bets while 63 percent said free play was an important part of their gaming strategy. More importantly, about a third of respondents said that a ban on free bets would push them to black market operators.
In a statement posted on the BGC website, BGC Chief Executive Micheal Dugher lashed out against the proposed ban saying, “Blanket bans on offers would be anti-punter and would severely degrade that customer experience, punishing the overwhelming majority of punters who bet safely. Problem gambling is 0.2 per cent. Imagine the outcry if supermarkets were forced to ban offers and promotions for beer and wine? We see no difference to our industry.”
“A draconian ban would damage a sector which tens of thousands rely on for their livelihoods, by turning punters away from the regulated industry into the arms of unsafe, unregulated black market gambling, where the numbers using such sites has doubled in recent years and the amount bet is in the billions. These sites have none of the safer gambling tools the regulated industry employ,” he added.