Man writing on Paper
Delving into the uncertain future of UK casino bonuses as a man diligently records the pivotal details of the April-released gambling whitepaper's transformative reforms aimed at enhancing player protection and online gambling accessibility. Cytonn Photography/Unsplash

Whether or not UK casino players will be able to make use of bonuses in the future is not certain. The gambling whitepaper released in April disclosed many new changes to the UK gambling industry. The major new reform focuses on protecting players and making it safer and easier to navigate the world of online gambling.

In April this year, we finally got the gambling whitepaper describing the potential future of the UK gambling industry. A new reform will regulate and manage the industry to a much larger extent. The government is expecting the new laws to be implemented in Summer 2024. It's already certain, though, that the industry will be forced to change, but most of what exactly is going to happen is still yet to be determined.

The released whitepaper did uncover some of the new implementations. The central point is that gambling operators are going to be forced to take more responsibility for their players. Vulnerable players will be getting easier access to treatment, just as more resources will be directed at research and education on gambling addiction. As gambling is getting more widespread in the UK and worldwide, the government has had an intensified focus on the gambling market.

Reform doesn't ban advertisements but calls to action

One of the potential outcomes of the new reform is a ban on advertisements and bonuses. The whitepaper didn't disclose an actual ban, even though there has been a lot of public pressure to implement such a ban. Instead, the government is calling the industry to action. Promotions such as free spin offers are a massive part of most online casino revenues, so if the ban is implemented, it will be felt by the operators. One operator that would notice such a ban is British Gambler.

"We're following the development of the reform closely. UK casino bonuses are a huge part of our revenue. The April white paper published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports proposed a potential ban on bonuses and free bets as they have done in Canada. It will be interesting to see whether or not we will be able to continue to share bonuses that UK casinos offer to new players," said a British Gambler spokesperson.

Right now, the government has expressed a warning. The ambition is to protect players and give them more control. This means that online gambling sites need to limit their targeting, including some types of promotions and the use of player data to some extent. Whether or not they will be able to offer free bets and bonuses in the future is still being determined. The government is reviewing the topic.

The industry needs to prepare for a statutory levy

One thing that the industry can be preparing for already is the statutory levy that will be implemented next year. At the moment, there is a voluntary levy to help with treatment and research on gambling addiction. This is not going to be voluntary any longer. Gambling operators are being forced to take more responsibility.

The whitepaper also describes several other measures, such as a stake limit on online slots of somewhere between £2 and £15 per spin. Besides these measures, the Gambling Commission will gain more power and agility to fight illegal gambling sites and operators not following the new rules. This is another significant change in order to make the UK gambling a safer place to be. At the same time, an industry ombudsman is going to be dealing with any disputes that might occur between players and operators in the future.

Player protection checks implemented

The main goal of this major new reform is to limit the risks of gambling online. This is why also player protection checks will be implemented. These are made to support players with a gambling addiction or who are otherwise harmed by gambling. The gambling operators are required to conduct these checks. Most people will never be checked unless there's a particular reason for it. The point is to have more control to limit access for the most vulnerable players.

Even though it is still not determined exactly what the reform will entail or how the specifics will be carried out, the whitepaper clearly describes the changes needed in the gambling industry. Some of the new measures have been disclosed, but it's going to be interesting to follow the development of the entire reform. It is certain, though, that the UK gambling industry will need to adjust to changing times from next summer and on.