Online casinos have largely won the race with their brick-and-mortar counterparts and are the dominant form of entertainment. Convenience and simplicity are some of the reasons people choose Internet gambling operators, especially mobile-friendly ones. The other argument cited often by people who shifted from land-based casinos to online ventures was the availability of bonuses.
Depending on the business and games offered, gambling operators frequently provide new and existing members with financial incentives. Casinos offer free spins for slots, various bonuses for live dealer table games, and free bets for sports betting and esports. UK GC licensed operators do the same, but there is a real chance of them not being allowed to offer these incentives in the future.
The 2005 Gambling Act is under review
The UK government has postponed the review of the 2005 Gambling Act for many years and things only got worse after the resignation of the prime minister in July. Some casinos were happy that no decisions were made yet, but others are more concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the process. Affiliates and suppliers, as well as operators, are pessimistic about the future, as they expect change to occur — but are uncertain about the timing and the nature of the changes.
It is customary among government officials in the UK and elsewhere to leak information, to test the reaction of society and businesses. This has happened in the United Kingdom over the last few months, hinting at the possible changes that would affect online casinos and bookmakers. Football team shirt sponsorship bans, as well as stake limits on slots, were considered, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many fear that free bets and free spins will also be banned in the foreseeable future.
Keeping the players safe is the priority
The UK GC and the government highlight the importance of keeping players safe and have made this the top priority. This makes perfect sense since the most vulnerable gamblers should be protected, yet the course of action is highly debatable. Imposing a total ban on free bets and free spins sounds a bit excessive, despite some convincing arguments. The main reason for banning them is to remove the strong incentives that make online gambling irresistible.
Government officials are highlighting the dangers of targeting young and vulnerable individuals with bonuses of all sorts. Most regulated online casinos and bookmakers have “expressed on multiple occasions their willingness to take whatever measures are needed to protect players” according to the slots website JeffBet.com. However, if they are deprived of the chance to use bonuses as incentives, they would lose their competitive edge. This will make offshore and unregulated online gambling operators more attractive to players seeking generous bonuses.
The bottom line is that banning free bets and spins outright risks backfiring badly. Instead of protecting players, it could push them into the arms of unlicensed and unscrupulous offshore gambling operators. It would also deprive the UK government of an important source of income.
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