BGC: 82% of customers want free bets

The BGC has urged the government not to clamp down on promotional offers.
The BGC has urged the government not to clamp down on promotional offers.

The Betting and Gaming Council’s survey found overwhelming customer support for the ability to run promotional offers.

UK.- A YouGov survey conducted on behalf of industry lobby group the Betting and Gaming Council has found that 82 per cent of customers in the UK believe betting and gaming companies should be allowed to offer promotions such as free bets.

Some 54 per cent of respondents thought that banning promotions would probably drive punters to unregulated, unsafe black market gambling sites which do offer promotions. 

The BGC noted that it was publishing the survey results just as people flock to Cheltenham Festival for the biggest week in the British horse racing calendar. Around 274,000 will attend Cheltenham this week, generating an estimated £274m for the local economy, while an estimated £1bn will be bet in person and online across the four days of racing.

It said that although anti-gambling campaigners have repeatedly called for the government’s delayed gambling reforms to include a ban or heavy restrictions on promotions, customer sentiment shows that such a move would be unpopular. 

BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “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.

“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.

“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.”

The BGC described betting as a hugely popular British hobby, noting that around 22.5 million adults in the UK have a bet each month, whether that’s buying a lottery ticket, having a game of bingo, visiting a casino, playing online or having a wager on football, horseracing and other sports.

It stressed that problem gambling rates in the UK are low by international standards. The latest figures from the Gambling Commission show that 0.2 per cent of the adult population were problem gamblers last year, down from 0.3 per cent.

The UK gambling sector’s contribution

The lobby group said that unlike the black market, which does not support the economy, regulated betting and gaming supports around 110,000 jobs in the UK, generates £7.1bn for the economy and contributes £4.2bn in tax for vital frontline services. It warned that a recent study found the numbers using black market sites have doubled in recent years from 210,000 to 460,000, and the money staked is in the billions.

Meanwhile, a recent survey of RacingTV members showed 15 per cent of 3,500 respondents said that they bet, or they know someone who bets, with an unregulated online bookmaker. In addition, nearly 80 per cent of the respondents said they would not want to see mandatory limits imposed by bookmakers on how much punters can spend.

RacingTV has launched a letter-writing campaign urging keen betters to contact their MP, to outline concerns about potential changes to betting regulation.

Earlier this week, the BGC warned against increasing taxes on gambling. Announcing its support for the government’s “Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere” economic plan, it warned against “measures which would threaten growth, jeopardise jobs or undermine the customer experience for millions of punters”.

See also: BGC claims big rise in deposit limits during UK Safer Gambling Week

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