Pavlos Sideris, Double Up Media: Operators should be doing more to treat players fairly

Operators can, and should, be doing more to treat players fairly, writes Pavlos Sideris, Director of Double Up Media, as he explains the benefits of ‘fair promotions’ for both the player, as well as an operator’s bottom line.

The past several years have seen a dramatic change in the way operators advertise their promotions.  Some have reduced the frequency of their promotions, while others have withdrawn them entirely in fear of being castigated due to a breach of advertising standards.

The shift followed a shakeup in 2017 when the Gambling Commission issued multiple penalties and fines for violation of licence conditions, specifically failing to clearly communicate the significant terms and limitations of their offers.

Operators and their affiliates went to great lengths to ensure they were compliant and, as a consequence, many operators streamlined their promotions and scrapped confusing conditions and unfair restrictions.

Others followed suit and for a while it seemed that a new trend towards fairer bonuses and promotions throughout the industry was forming.  However, in recent months it would appear that trend has met increasing resistance.

Fairer terms meet resistance, despite popularity

One of the most prevalent restrictions in promotional terms and conditions are wagering requirements. The typical industry average for wagering requirements is around 40x.  The trend saw many operators lowering wagering requirements to less than 20x, and others ditched them entirely in a bid to jump on the wager-free bandwagon and show that they treat players fairly.

Despite an increase in demand for this type of fairer promotion, the volume of new and existing no wagering casinos has stagnated, and higher wagering requirements are starting to creep back in.

A handful of reasonably sized operators are applying wagering requirements of 50x, 65x and even 100x on their bonuses and free spins.  Some are even applying the requirements to the deposit plus bonus amount, effectively doubling the multiple up to as much as 200x.

Conditions this stringent cunningly disguise the bonus and/or winnings from being nothing more than demo credit, as there is virtually no chance of a player ever fulfilling them before depleting their funds.

Furthermore, there is a concern that excessive wagering requirements force players “to play for longer than they had bargained for before they can withdraw money”, as noted in an investigation conducted by the CMA on whether online gambling firms are treating their customers fairly, and which prompted the GC to take action.

An argument can be made that wagering requirements are necessary to protect operators as well as their affiliates from bonus abuse and loss of earnings. While that might be true to some degree, the excessively high wagering requirements noted above are completely unnecessary.

Fairness is profitable, too

Operators that are playing fair with low wagering requirements, or even none at all, are still making healthy profits and, in some cases, far outperforming their unrelenting rivals. 

PlayOJO is one such brand – the SkillOnNet-owned casino is the most profitable of their 40 properties, yet is the only one with an ‘absolutely no wagering requirements’ ethos across the board. 

Paddy Power Betfair are another operator that have introduced a wager-free approach to all their free spins.  Aiofe Keyes, affiliate manager at Paddy Power Betfair, says: “We recognise that players expect to be treated fairly and so have axed wagering requirements on our free spins across casino, games and vegas. The uptake has been significant, and we are onboarding record levels of players due in part to our fairer promotions.”

Clearly demand for fairness is outweighing supply, and there’s no excuse for the merciless restrictions some operators are imposing on players. Operators can, and probably should, be doing more to treat players fairly, if not only for the player, then potentially for their bottom line, too.

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