The gambling industry has been nothing short of obsessed with the latest UK gambling review, and now it’s finally here. But what you really want to know is how these recommendations could affect wagering requirements and give you a better chance of seeing some results from your online casino and bingo bonuses.
Could we finally have a cure for unfair bonuses?
We here at No Wagering have been advocates of fairer bonus terms for many years, and it seems like the UK government is finally starting to listen. Despite some operators voluntarily making a point of removing or reducing wagering requirements, and generally improving the small print for their new and existing customer offers, there are some that still refuse to play ball.
Now, it’s possible that these brands may be forced to change their habits after the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer, released the details of the eagerly-awaited Gambling Reforms White Paper on 27 April 2023.
What is the Gambling Reform White Paper?
Before we get too jubilant, we have to remember that a white paper like this is one of the first steps in creating new UK legislation and until MPs vote on changes, it remains a fact-finding report outlining recommendations and nothing more—for now.
The gambling reform white paper is a policy document created by the government in response to wide-reaching calls from experts and campaign groups that the current gambling laws are inadequate and outdated. There is concern for the safety of those that gamble both on and offline for various reasons such as unsolicited incentives, high stake limits, overspending, lack of customer interaction and financial checks among various other things.
The recommendations outlined in the white paper will be subject to a 1-year consultation period as MPs have their say in amending any parts that they don't agree with. This will be completed by summer 2024, then Parliament will begin the task of voting on specific laws.
When could changes come about?
The emphasis here is on the word ‘could’. If all MPs were pulling in the same direction and the government wanted to get it done and written into the statute books, then you’d be surprised at how quickly these things can happen.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case and new legislation like this could take years to come into effect.
The review process began quite some time ago and even the release of this white paper was delayed by more than a year, so it’s unlikely the UK lawmakers are going to suddenly spring into action and push this through anytime soon.
How wagering requirements were approached by the white paper
There are several mentions of wagering requirements in this review and also some anecdotal evidence of how other countries have taken steps to improve their own gambling bonus landscape.
One of the major takeaways from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport’s findings is that there needs to be ‘clear rules and fair limits on re-wagering requirements and time limits’. But it didn’t go so far as to recommend banning them altogether.
However, one of the specific references that was included in the review was how Denmark recently introduced a maximum 10x wagering requirement and gave players a mandatory 2-month period to enjoy their bonus.
Given that the UK government is focused on reducing the size of wagers for players and wants to remove the urgency from claiming deals that encourage high spending, it’s very likely that the UK could get its own set of limits put in place. It might not spell the end for wagering requirements, but it’s a start.
What you can do to beat the wagering requirements
Until any legal changes come about, iGaming fans in the UK will still find offers with incredibly high wagering requirements that attempt to lure them in with the promise of seemingly valuable deals. And even after new rules are brought in, they aren’t likely to disappear completely.
Here at No Wagering, we would love to see ‘time’ called on this type of clause but we are realistic. Operators want to safeguard their potential losses from high-value bonuses and imposing high wagering requirements is the most common way of doing this. After all, some larger firms are already reporting that revenues are down due to safer gambling measures and they don't want to see their bottom line fall further still.
If you want to land some lucrative bonuses to play slots and other games while not letting wagering requirements get in your way, then the only option is to choose those without wagering requirements at all. Keep in mind however, that offers with zero or low wagering requirements often don't appear as 'generous' as those with wagering requirements - mainly because they allow you to actually withdraw your winnings!
That said, there are still some attractive wager-free bonuses about, some offering in excess of 100 free spins to play the latest slots or even a decent amount of bonus credit to spend on other types of games. If this is what you’re looking for, then take a look at some of our favourite places to play:
Other bonus-related recommendations
There's no mention of removing bonus deals altogether as they certainly have their part to play; in fact, customers are largely in favour of them according to the results of a recent YouGov survey. Instead, what we have is a clear call for gambling operators to cease what the report refers to as ‘aggressive advertising practices’ to protect consumers—especially those who are vulnerable and more susceptible to overspending.
These improvements are being suggested just weeks after one operator received a huge fine for presenting its latest deals to those on self-exclusion lists in the UK. In the Netherlands, another was recently penalised for aiming marketing at young people.
The gambling review suggests introducing stricter promo guidelines and allowing players to decide what kind of marketing they receive. While regulations are already in place to allow this, they clearly don’t go far enough and operators could face severe legal repercussions in the future.
VIP schemes have also been highlighted, yet again, despite being reformed in 2020. The fear is that rewarding overspending continues to be an issue, so watch out for changes to these and similar loyalty programmes.