UKGC and Free Bets Ban: Is It Possible?

Free bets can be considered stimulation, and with the UKGC cracking down on practices that stimulate punters to gamble, it may soon be part of its restrictions. Much controversy has arisen following the massively anticipated gambling regulation review that seeks to impose new rules to protect at-risk players. But will the UKGC ban free bets? The commission has already ended credit card gambling and mandates operators to participate in the GamStop scheme.

Other aspects of the gambling regulation review include imposing betting limits, extending the testing regime and performing affordability checks. However, the free bet bans have caught the attention of many. It may cause an even bigger wave of new players who search for non GamStop no deposit casino bonuses such as NonGamStopSlots operators because a good percentage of players prefer some free runs before making deposits. This piece examines the prospective banning of free bets from UKGC licensed sportsbooks and its possibilities.

What are Free Bets?

As the name suggests, free bets are sportsbook promotions offering punters a chance to predict the outcome of specific events, such as a football match. The player is given a free stake to bet on the game and stands a chance to win real money without risking a deposit. Free bets can be a specific game or betting cash/stake that the customer can bet on a game of their choice. However, such promotions feature restrictions on the odds and outcomes players can choose if allowed the chance to select an event. For example, you may only be able to bet on an outright outcome (win, loss, and draw).

Free bets allow sportsbook operators to lure new customers because the player stands to lose nothing. However, it also opens doors to players starting a gambling behaviour that can develop harmful patterns. Operators also use free bets to keep regular players hooked and market such offers, bringing the customer’s attention to the betting activity. Although they might seem risk-free and potentially lucrative if you make the correct prediction, free bets kickstart a gambling habit. They also tempt recovering players to trying their luck one more time, setting their recovery several steps back. Still, many sportsbooks in the UK and worldwide feature such bonuses, and casino players can also encounter no deposit free spins and betting cash.

Are Free Bets a Trap for Gamblers?

Free bets are some of the most attractive bonuses a new gambler can get. You are given a free stake to bet on a match and stand to win cash, which you can then withdraw or reinvest in gambling. There’s no risk involved because you don’t have to make a deposit. Free bets also appeal to VIP and regular players for the same reasons. However, the bonus is designed to keep gamblers betting. In using a free bet, the player may become aware of new opportunities to make profitable bets. Betting firms know this, which is why they use free bets and other no deposit bonuses to attract and retain customers. They also feature several other deals, including deposit matches, loss cashback, and leaderboard giveaways that require the customer to make a deposit.

Players who exploit free bets can easily be tempted to pursue other promotions, especially if they are successful in their first prediction. Unfortunately, bookies are businesses with sophisticated algorithms that update odds to ensure profits. The more often you bet, the more likely you’ll lose money and chasing losses is also an ongoing theme among vulnerable bettors. Gambling also takes a lot of time in match analysis and the anxiety that builds once the whistle is blown. The UKGC and other advocates of banning free bets recognize it as a lure that may lead players into developing a gambling habit. The deal stimulates players to gamble in the guise of providing a risk-free opportunity but ultimately cultivates gambling behaviour.

Will the UKGC Ban Free Bets?

The gambling problem affects 340,000 customers placing bets across UK gambling websites, about 3% of the gambling population. Studies indicate the number of bettors with a gambling problem is as high as 1.4 million, which is a concern for the UK government and Gambling Commission which do everything to protect players. This is nothing compared to the numbers in Australia. However, it’s enough to call for stricter measures before things get out of hand. In 2019, similar laws were implemented in Australia to protect its vulnerable players from gambling harm. The same could soon happen in the UK. According to Lord Michael Forsyth, former UK government minister, “free bets shouldn’t be offered by gambling companies given the possibilities of harmful gambling behaviours.”

These sentiments are shared by the commission and other organizations committed to safer gambling practices. However, the question of if the UKGC will ban free bets remains to be answered after the gambling regulation overhaul. As things stand, the likelihood of free bets getting excluded seems inevitable, and it’s just a matter of time before such promotions disappear from all sportsbooks and casinos licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. The UKGC is committed to making this regulation part of the existing restrictions that include credit card bans and GamStop. However, such drastic changes will impact bookies and players, so some groups understandably unwelcome the gambling laws overhaul currently in culmination.


There’s no doubt free bets are attractive risk-free opportunities for punters. However, given the addictive nature of gambling, such promotions are likely to cause more harm to vulnerable and recovering players. There are always pros and cons when we talk about no deposit bonuses.

The UK Gambling Commission has set forth various changes it intends to review and enforce as part of its efforts to curb the gambling problem. For operators, this means stricter laws and adaptation to the changing landscape of their activities. Free bets will probably be banned sooner rather than later, and gambling operators must be prepared to find new, more ethical solutions to serve their customers.

About the Author

Josh Morgan

Josh Morgan is CouponAnnie's Contributing Writer. He lives life on the cheap, but that doesn't mean a boring existence. Josh loves helping people focus on frugality without giving up the things they enjoy. When he's not getting deals, he's probably drawing or writing something amazing.