A ban on ‘free bets’ would push almost a third of punters to the black market while sucking millions out of horse racing, new data released today suggests.
Anti-gambling campaigners have demanded the Government introduce a complete ban of punter promotions in its upcoming reforms of the Gambling Act – despite a staggering 69 per cent of customers saying they should be allowed.
New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Betting and Gaming Council found as well as 69 per cent of punters saying free bets should be allowed, 63 per cent said they found promotions a valuable part of their hobby.
Almost one in three punters (28 per cent) said they would consider black market betting if ministers ignored popularity and forced through draconian bans.
As well as driving punters away from the regulated industry, analysis conducted by the BGC found the move would hit the horse racing Levy for approximately £5m a year, in a double blow on the industry.
Punters must request promotional offers when opening an account with a regulated betting and gaming operator in the UK and can stop receiving them at any point they choose.
Black Market gambling has more than doubled in just two years, from 220,000 users to 460,000.
Banning free bets is the latest proposal suggested by the anti-gambling lobby that could hit horse racing revenues after blanket affordability checks.
These means tests, which would compel punters to produce personal financial records like bank statements before they are allowed to bet as little as £100 a month, could suck up to £100m a year out of horse racing, according to industry experts.
In total, the regulated betting and gaming industry contributes around £350m annually to horse racing in the UK through the levy, media rights and sponsorship. This funding was vital during the pandemic.
But there are growing concerns new measures being considered by the Government could jeopardise this vital funding
Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, Michael Dugher, said: “Promotions and offers are part of the customer experience for any vibrant industry, including our intensely competitive sector, which supports 119,000 jobs and brings in £4.4bn in taxes to the Treasury.
“Blanket bans on offers would be anti-punter and would severely degrade that customer experience, punishing the overwhelming majority of punters who bet safely. Problem gambling is 0.2 per cent. Imagine the outcry if supermarkets were forced to ban offers and promotions for beer and wine? We see no difference to our industry.
While Dugher said he supported the government’s ‘evidence-led’ approach to gambling reform, he said ministers should shouldn’t be “sticking their nose into how people choose to spend their own money”.