UK Gambling Bonus Regulations to be Discussed Amid Growing Public Backlash

Posted on: November 3, 2023, 09:46h. 

Last updated on: November 3, 2023, 09:46h.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is set to discuss the topic of bonuses and incentives with industry players. This follows the government’s white paper on gambling reforms, although there is growing public resistance to some of the recommendations.

The British flag flying on a flagpole
The British flag flying on a flagpole. The government and the UKGC continue exploring gambling reforms. (Image: Pinterest)

Mandy Gill, Director of Compliance at the UKGC, discussed the consultation on bonuses at the recent British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA) event. The focus of the consultations is the use of free bets and other incentives, and their role in promoting responsible gambling.

The white paper has introduced various recommendations that could significantly impact the UK gambling industry. However, not all of them, such as affordability checks, have been well-received. It is now up to consumers and the gaming industry to ensure that these reforms meet their approval.

Bonuses and Free Bets Under Scrutiny

The UKGC is currently seeking feedback from gaming entities on how they currently handle the relationship between incentives and social responsibility. They are also open to suggestions on how these incentives can be adjusted to align with the government’s gambling reforms.

The government and the UKGC have already imposed restrictions on how gaming operators can use incentives to attract players. The white paper may introduce further limitations, which has raised concerns about the growth of the black market.

During her speech at BACTA, Gill mentioned that the regulator and government officials will discuss gambling management tools as part of the consultation. This includes the consideration of stricter online deposit limits.

The UKGC is also expecting feedback on “regulatory returns,” which are self-audits submitted by gaming operators to provide information on their daily activities. These returns help the regulator ensure compliance with license terms.

To this end, the UKGC is considering increasing the frequency of collecting regulatory returns. Currently, most operators submit returns on a quarterly and annual basis.

There will also be discussions on removing outdated or irrelevant items.

Resistance to Changes Grows Among Consumers

The consultation on bonuses and incentives follows a previous consultation on affordability checks and other topics, which received 3,000 submissions from the gambling industry. These checks would require gamblers to demonstrate their financial stability to continue gambling, and in some cases, may result in restrictions.

The UKGC argues that the impact of affordability checks will not be significant, although concrete figures to support this claim have not been provided. However, two ongoing petitions suggest that the general public disagrees.

The petition ‘Stop the implementation of betting affordability/financial risk checks’ highlights that these checks may apply even when players sustain losses as small as £1.37 (US$1.69) per day.

This petition was launched on November 1 and has already gathered over 41,200 signatures in just two days. The deadline for signing is May 1, 2024.

The second petition, ‘Don’t allow affordability checks for sports betting,’ is more general, stating that bettors should not have to undergo intrusive checks regarding their finances. This petition ends on November 9 and currently has over 4,100 signatures.

According to UK law, the government is required to respond to a petition once it receives at least 10,000 signatures. If the second petition reaches an additional 6,000 signatures within the next week, the same requirement will apply.

Furthermore, petitions that gather at least 100,000 signatures receive further attention from the government and may lead to a parliamentary debate.


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