UK Casino VIP Programs Ending

Is it fair to prevent loyalty point awards? The UKGC’s new regulations plan to prevent UK online casinos from offering VIP loyalty rewards! (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

VIP Loyalty Reward programs that reward members of online casinos will soon come to an end due to new rules published by the British government and to be enforced by the UKGC. The blanket ban will be a foundation for a later White Paper due to happen by the end of the year across the UK, after the review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Recently, we have seen news of a review of the Gambling Act of 2005. It appears that the review is targeting operators mostly in the land-based and online sports betting arena, but many of the new rules are also spilling over into the online casino/iGaming sphere. The review of the previous regulations will create and has been creating quite a few changes in the industry, for the benefit of helping punters to be at minimal risk as possible of problem gambling. One such rule we recently saw targeted online slots. It ensures online slots at UK online casinos take at least 2.5 seconds to deliver the result of a spin, auto-play features force users to set limits, and the quick spin feature is disabled.

Next up for UKGC is to stop casino and sports betting sites from offering its members VIP/Loyalty rewards points and bonuses. The logic behind the move is that the government believe a customer will strive to meet criteria that the operators set in order to maintain their VIP status. This could lead to some customers betting more often than they normally would, or betting higher stakes than usual. Doing this could lead to problem gambling, which naturally the government is trying to keep at a minimum.

Some ministers who voted on the new ruling see VIP schemes as immoral. Gambling in the UK is a strong industry, and encouraging people to gamble beyond their means is not justifiable when the marketplace is so huge. Less wealthy customers may be jeopardising their livelihoods all for the benefit of sports betting operating superpower. A DCMS spokesperson told how the review was closed in March, and they are now carefully considering the responses that have provided evidence on some advertising practices.

As of now, the results indicate that the ban on VIP schemes will come into force, with the government set to release documentation with all that has been concluded by the end of this year. The DCMS has distanced themselves from making any comments of certainty, as they choose to neither deny nor confirm the banning of VIP schemes.

What is a VIP scheme?

Over the years, sports betting and iGaming operators offer VIP treatment to customers for meeting certain criteria, i.e., for spending/betting frequently. Each operator sets or decides its own criteria that need to be met, and it will differ from operator to operator. Some operators may require a certain amount to be deposited on a consistent basis (usually monthly), whereas others may judge a customer by the total value of bets that they make in a certain time period.

If the customer meets these criteria, then they will be eligible for bonuses and prizes; it may be a free bet, increased odds, or a percentage returned of losing bets. To reach higher levels, players receive points per bet which accumulate. Points can be swapped for cash, to purchase merchandise, or to enter tournaments which is common in sites that offer online poker or slot races with a buy-in fee. Furthermore, the more points a player collects, the higher the VIP level. Each stage of the VIP ladder adds additional benefits, mimicking that famous high roller ‘red carpet’ treatment casinos are world famous for.

One of the key issues is that these VIP programs do encourage players to bet more than they usually would and, as such, these schemes are a contributor to problem gambling.

What Will UK Players Miss Out On?

  • Special Events and Private Tournaments
  • Personal Account Manager
  • Personalised Gifts
  • Faster Payouts
  • Exclusive Real Money Bonuses
  • Higher Deposit Limits
  • Cashback Deals
  • Free Spins
  • Exchange point for cash

MP Says Ban on VIP Programs is Overdue

Former Conservative Party leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, believes that any ban on VIP schemes is well overdue, and he sees them as a mechanic for grooming people into betting, which may indirectly force them into debt. The Council for Betting and Gaming deem the new measure as particularly tough. The BGC argues that they have already introduced strict codes that operators must practice. The new codes it introduced have resulted in the number of VIP accounts slashed by 70%. The BGC believe that while problem gambling is not the goal of the industry, operators feel like they should reward customers for loyal service.

Some media are claiming that UK Ministers already have their minds made up on the matter and have reached a general consensus.