Debating industry concerns regarding player bonuses and free bets, BOS ‘Bonus Session’ panel stated that it was time for the industry to address its current ‘conundrum’ or risk continuing its race to the bottom with aggressive and costly acquisition strategies.
Opening the session, Harry Lang Marketing Director of Pinnacle observed that the ‘bonus debate,’ had split the industry with stakeholders either viewing present customer incentives as a ‘necessary evil’ or ‘completely redundant.’
Nevertheless, Lang points out that the conflicting debate will continue as the majority of betting operators will not want to ‘phase out’ bonus incentives as this would be too disruptive to their day-to-day operations.
Offering a regulatory perspective IBAS Managing Director Richard Hayler detailed that his organisation had seen a significant rise in the number of bonus related disputes.
Noting the negative trend, Hayler states that IBAS officials often question the upkeep bookmakers have undertaken in maintaining bonus schemes (on marketing, operations and legal teams), further pointing that the significant number of players were completely ‘unmotivated’ by bonus promotions.
Presenting a leadership perspective Vahe Baloulian CEO of BetConstruct addresses concerns that an industry ‘bonus culture’ may have detached bookmakers further from its consumer base. Baloulian maintains that bonuses biggest negative on business has been what he labels as a ‘dehumanising’ of customers as ‘fraudsters’ or ‘bonus abusers’.
Pointing to further impacts, Baloulian states that for some operators’ bonuses and free bets have become the easy option for customer communication, retention, branding, and engagement.
The CEO fears that a dependency on bonuses may have stopped betting stakeholders from asking fundamental questions about their services and customers, which in itself will have become growth block.
Searching for positives, the panel agrees that the industry’s current ‘bonus conundrum’ can be overcome by bookmakers improving their intelligence capabilities and creating better-defined brands.