The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has warned the government to listen to betting consumers who value their free bets and promotions.
The trade body points to a recent YouGov poll it commissioned, which reveals that over 80% of bettors believe gambling companies should be permitted to provide promotions like free bets.
YouGov’s survey found that 82% of respondents support promotional offers from betting and gaming businesses, as 54% of respondents believe that limiting promotions could push bettors towards unregulated, dangerous black market gambling sites that continue to offer such promotions.
The findings coincide with this week’s Cheltenham Festival, UK racing’s biggest fixture that will draw thousands of attendees and millions of viewers across the UK
The Festival is expected to generate £274m for the local economy, with around 274,000 attendees and an estimated £1bn in wagers placed during the four-day event. In addition, live TV coverage is anticipated to reach around 20 hours, with approximately one million viewers tuning in daily
The BGC stands against industry reformists that call for strict limitations or outright bans on promotional offers, which they hope to see included in the upcoming government reforms for betting and gaming
BGC CEO Michael Dugher emphasises the need for the government to consider the millions of responsible bettors enjoying events like Cheltenham before introducing harsh measures.
“The market for betting is hyper-competitive with most customers using a number of different operators,” Dugher explained
“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 government was reminded that the UK gambling sector maintains approximately 110,000 jobs, contributes £7.1bn to the economy and £4.2bn in taxes for essential services.
A separate RacingTV survey found that 15% of 3,500 respondents either bet on unregulated online bookmakers or know someone who does. Additionally, almost 80% of respondents do not want mandatory spending limits imposed by bookmakers.
RacingTV has initiated a letter-writing campaign allowing bettors to voice their concerns about potential changes to gambling regulations by contacting their MPs.