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Should Free Bets be Scrapped as Part of the UK Government's Gambling Review?

The feature has been led and sponsored by UK free bets portal,

Should Free Bets and Casino Promotions be Scrapped as Part of the UK Government's Upcoming Gambling Review?
Should Free Bets and Casino Promotions be Scrapped as Part of the UK Government's Upcoming Gambling Review?

This week, our news feature homes in on the UK Government's upcoming gambling review, which Minister Chris Philp says will be looking closely at promotional offers and inducements offered by gambling operators.

Here at, we have asked the question “Should Free Bets and Casino Promotions be Scrapped as Part of the Government's Upcoming Gambling Review?”, collating comments and opinions from some of the industry’s leading figureheads.

The feature has been led and sponsored by UK free bets portal,

“Free bets have played a pivotal role in the UK betting industry for decades, being integral in creating competition and enhancing player experiences.

“As our brand name suggests, free bets are our core business, and we believe when handled in a professional, safe fashion, they create compelling online gambling sessions. There are numerous other benefits to betting offers. As well as allowing players to explore new markets for free or for a reduced rate, free bonuses are a tool used by operators to attract new customers. Given the fact that the UK gambling industry employs close to 120,000, scrapping free bets could have a hugely detrimental impact on the industry and employment rates. We were eager to lead this conversation with to gauge the output of the industry.” - Steve Gummer, Director of


"Scrapping free bets and promotions is not necessarily the answer as it will significantly reduce operator opportunity to market to customers, therefore reducing customer awareness of the choice of products out there. Ultimately, this could reduce competition and strangle the industry. Rather, the industry should be continuing to concentrate on identifying and protecting “at risk” customers to reduce societal harm and improve the perception of gambling in Great Britain.

One potential solution to achieving this would be through the continued implementation of high-quality risk assessments and improved monitoring of player activity and customer communication." - Nige Roberts, Sales Director Rdentify.


"Promotions and offers are part of the customer experience for any vibrant industry, including our intensely competitive sector, which supports 119,000 jobs and brings in £4.4 billion in taxes to the Treasury.

"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." - BGC chief executive Michael Dugher.


“Free bets along with additional tools such as cashback or odds boosters are traditionally used as a way of rewarding loyal players and increasing retention rates for operators. However, this once integral part of operator-to-player communication has become antiquated in modern times.  

The sending of non-personalized promotions to players through systems that think in segments and target groups works by envisaging what an average player wants and not what is best for an individual. This becomes most evident if operators want to do this in a responsible way to retain a player and make sure that their behaviour is not becoming a problem. A deeper level of personalisation unique to each customer must be achieved to reflect these issues and retain customers moving forward. 

The end goal is to make sure that the player gets the best offer and entertainment available, however limited promotions that are both relevant, engaging and personalised alongside working out profit and loss calculations result in less aggressive more targeted promotions. This can be achieved by using deep learning algorithms and artificial intelligence that investigate each individual player and provide them with the right content and promotions at the right time, in a responsible way. This concept is made possible by understanding in real-time, if behaviour shows some problematic patterns these ground-breaking technologies can act quickly to adapt or stop the promotion. “Should Free Bets and Betting Promotions be Scrapped?” No, but should they be enhanced through artificial intelligence to improve retention rates, the customer experience and operator profits, indubitably yes.” - Thomas Aigner, Head of Buisness Development at Ibex.


"Free bets and casino promotions are essential to players' overall experience. Such features level up the entertainment punters are searching for. Without it, the betting experience as an entertainment form wouldn't be the same. Problem gambling (very low) will not be solved by imposing bans and limitations on promotional activities - if that is the idea behind campaigners asking this even to be considered. Protecting vulnerable players is of utmost importance, but banning free bets will not do the job. On the contrary, it will negatively impact all parties involved, especially most players who bet safely."- Josip Vrbic?, Managing Director, Seven Games.


"Absolutely not. If the regulator restricts players in some way, then the players will go where they are not restricted in any way. This is especially true for promotions.

Unless the goal of the government regulator is to move players to offshore brands and if they want big companies to leave their market.

Promotions are an important element of the interaction between the player and the operator, and of course there are different types of annoying advertising and promotions, but that's another matter." - Slot Catalog.


"If it were to go ahead a complete free bet/free spins ban feels like one step too far. Unless the government provides strong evidence that ' free' promotional activity is directly linked to gambling related harm, which they haven't done to this point, then there is no reason why it should be enforced. Yes the industry is highly adaptable and would find other ways to attract and retain players, but these types of promotions have long been the mainstay of online betting and igaming and, without them, a large part of the entertainment experience would be lost." - James Bennett, PR Director, Receptional.


“As an online operator we rely on online betting promotions to both attract and retain players. Such offers also allow us to stand out in what has become a competitive market. The scrappage of free bets would have a detrimental effect on our business! Problem gambling actually on the decline!” - AVABET.


"Promotions are an essential part of business, If used effectively and responsibly both the consumer and business can benefit. 

My concern about banning free bets or casino promotions is it can potentially drive players into the black, illegal, market, where they will potentially be able to get these offers.

In the black market, where there are often no responsible gambling controls or enforced UK regulations, the player is at much greater risk than they would be if they had the offer in the first place in the regulated market." - Henry McLean, Co-founder - Commercial & Marketing Director,


“Free plays, bonuses and similar promotions have always been a part of gambling landscape. From perks at the Vegas hotels to online signup incentives, the carrots have always been dangled. These promotions have proven to be great acquisition tools, and they should never be squashed all together.   However, with these types of "handouts," you're always going to have bad actors who want to take advantage of loopholes in the system. That means operators' fraud departments must have a strong grasp of what they're offering, and for the most part they do a good job.” - Scott Cooley, Cool Media PR.


The British government has set forth particular objectives for the gambling sector, one of which is to guarantee that those who bet there can do so in a risk-free setting. All types of gambling marketing and advertising must comply with the social responsibility standards set per the Uk Kingdom's Advertising Codes.

The iGaming industry is promoted by advertising. Looking at gaming operations in the UK and the most recent review of the Gambling Act, we can say with certainty that the regulated market has always been difficult for both local and international operators. The standard KPIs, such as high tax rates, acquisition expenses, and ruthless competition, are what we all consider when establishing a business.

In the last ten years, our rewrite of gaming laws is currently the most thorough. The government is evaluating the Gaming Act and looking into player safety, which may include marketing and inducements, as well as gambling commercials.

At this point, it is just too early to make any predictions about the market effects the new gambling act will have. In order to approach internet gambling, the regulator will need to adopt a different paradigm. Limiting participants and reducing the gaming experience will drive new players to less safe and secure online venues. - Elazar Gilad, Spill Media CMO.


“The controversy over free bets and bonuses captures many of the issues involving online gambling within a single issue. Many licensees have used free bets and bonuses as a customer acquisition and retention tool instead of, rather than complementing, a differentiated product, high quality customer service and a meaningful brand experience. This has created an overcrowded sector hooked on aggressive marketing, which has helped to fuel the backlash. Too many licensees have attached terms and conditions to free bets and bonuses which are confusing, onerous and sometimes exploitative. This has created direct regulatory intervention and perhaps also explains ebbing consumer confidence in the sector. However, a generation of customers has grown up with free bets and bonuses as a part of their gambling experience. Equally, encouraging engagement and rewarding loyalty is not inherently bad. Seeing free bets and bonuses as ‘bad’ confuses a bad concept with bad practice. If free bets and bonuses are banned, it will give one of the biggest promotional tools available to the regulated sector to the black market: roughly the same value is printed on free bets and bonuses in the UK as is spent on marketing – c. £1.5bn – banning this would represent a massive distortion which would be almost impossible to police. The answer is better regulation and better behaved licensees: unfair and exploitative terms need to be stamped out; targeting needs to be based on measures which do not promote harmful play. Consumer redress needs to be simpler, with clear consequences for licensees who fall short. Changes are already being made but more can be done: transparency is key. Banning free bets and bonuses would be a disaster for effective regulation, but one which a critical mass of poorly managed and short-termist gambling licensees have largely brought about themselves.” Paul Leyland, Regulus Partners.

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