UK players cry foul over changes to casino free spins advertising standards
Authorities in the United Kingdom recently came down hard on the online gambling industry by making its gaming laws concerning advertising a lot more stringent. A new law was passed this year regarding free spins and was aimed at protecting gamblers from being duped by casinos into thinking that the free spins advertised were actually free.
The free spins advertised by online casinos had wagering requirements attached to them preventing a player from immediately accessing their winnings. They would be required to bet on them a certain stipulated amount of times before their winnings became eligible to be withdrawn. Most online casinos in the UK provided these free spins as part of a no deposit bonus offer. No deposit offers were all the rage in the UK at one point with players looking to take advantage of these free spins.
The free spins term provides false expectations and in a certain context can be seen as misleading. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) forced online casino operators to remove the phrase ‘free spins’ and instead use another term to promote their bonus offers. The removal of the term and name change has UK players up in arms even though the law is meant for their protection.
Arguably, the new laws by the government might stifle millions of people from all over the globe from indulging in the pastime. The new regulations do not only cover changing the term “free spin”. These are a set of laws meant to change the way online casinos advertise themselves. It can inconvenience players who previously enjoyed the benefits of gambling from their own home or while on the move.
Why UK players are upset by the decision
The outcome of the regulation has upset UK players and could potentially upset players from around the world as well if similar laws are passed in their jurisdictions. In essence, the new UK gambling advertising laws seems like an instance of over-reaching. For example, the new laws ban online casinos from promoting their games as having free spins. If it was just a name change, then perhaps there would be less of an uproar. However, players are under the impression that the concept of free spins has been banned altogether and are not aware that it is mostly a change of name when it comes to advertising.
The logic behind the passing of the laws by the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice to stop casinos from targeting and fooling vulnerable players into reading too much into the “free” portion of the “free spins” term. The committees want full disclosure from the casinos as to what a “free spin”—henceforth referred to by UK law as “free game”, “bonus spin”, or “bonus game”—entails.
Fears about “banning” free spins
UK players who have read the news or perhaps even glanced on the headlines are up-at-arms because they feel anger over the implication that if there are no more “free spins” of the “no deposit” variety, they will not be able to test casinos out before making a deposit. Perhaps the name “no deposit bonus games” does not have as much of an impact on them as having “free spins” in-game and out-of-game (but mostly out-of-game promos that let players try out the machines for themselves).
Mason Jones from NoDepositRewards.com has stated: “We have had an influx of emails from our UK customers asking why such a rule has been put in place when it was actually in their interest to have free spins to test out a casino.” He also noted that certain casinos such as VideoSlots.com are fighting back and refuse to remove their 11 free spins offer on the popular Starbust.
If for the sake of argument, the ban on the free spin term refers to free spins themselves, players will obviously have a tough time playing online slot machines without spending their own money. Free spins enable them to play a slot game and try it out with winnings to boot rather than using the free play mode, which is a different thing altogether. However, this could all be one great misunderstanding in what the actual advertising law entails. The law bans online casinos from advertising and promoting free spins as such, even though smaller casinos still do.
A ban on free spins or a ban on the term “free spins”
Online casino operators in the UK did their best to differentiate themselves from their competitors by coming up with attractive no deposit bonus offers which usually included free spins. They can no longer promote these free spins as part of their bonus offer and this has not gone down well with the players.
The truth is there never were really any free spins because the wagering requirements along with the terms and conditions made those “free spins” conditional. UK players are looking at it that way as they now feel that they have been deprived of a certain privilege because the UKGC and the ASA have decided to come up with stricter regulations. Online casino operators are careful to comply with the new regulations as otherwise they can be hit with stiff penalties.
iGaming operators have faced difficult regulation in the past and have always found a way to innovative and work around most gaming legislations that cramped them. It will be interesting to see how iGaming operators in the UK promote their free spins and no deposit bonus offers going forward.