The survey was commissioned by the BGC and conducted by YouGov.
According to the trade association, 82% of players responded affirmatively when asked whether gaming businesses “should be allowed to offer promotions such as free bets” to their users. The survey also found that 54% of those questioned said that banning promotions would drive bettors to the black market, which has no restrictions on promotions.
“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,” said BGC CEO Michael Dugher.
The survey comes in the context of the ongoing reform of the UK’s gambling laws. The government is expected to release a white paper in the next few weeks that will point the way forward by presenting a number of specific policy proposals – which may include changes to the laws surrounding gambling promotions.
The lobbying organisation highlighted the economic footprint of the industry in the UK as giving lawmakers reason to pause before setting off down this path – emphasising that the regulated betting and gaming sector supports 110,000 jobs, generates £7.1bn in economic activity and contributes £4.2bn in tax revenue for the treasury.
The BGC pointed to what it described as low-by-international-standards problem gambling rates, which, according to the latest figures published by the Gambling Commission, fell to 0.2% of the adult population, down from 0.3% the previous year. However, due to the small sample size, the regulator also emphasised that this reduction is not statistically significant.
“The market for betting is hyper-competitive with most customers using a number of different operators,” added the former Labour MP. “Banning or severely restricting free bets would be another attack on the punter; it degrades the customer experience and it also hurts business which 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.”