Back in March 2016 the Government announced that they would be taxing free bets from bingo and casino operators. The requirement is expected to come into force from August 2017 and it would mean a 15% duty being applied to all free or discounted bets. How this will effect the bingo landscape remains to be seen, but are we starting to see a change?
This week Foxy Bingo decided to drop their no deposit bonus for new players. Now the only offer on the table is deposit £10 for £40 to play (300% bonus, max bonus £90). For the best part of 12 months they've offered a £5 freebie to new players keeping themselves in tandem with Costa Bingo. However the two brands couldn't now be more poles apart when you consider what's on offer for a newbie.
No Deposit Newbie Rooms
A number of other big brand Dragonfish powered sites like Wink and 888 Ladies don't offer a no deposit bonus but they do have a free newbie room. This is accessible without funding for a limited period. A similar offer is available on Dragonfish Network brands such as our own Loquax Bingo, Bingo House and Prize Bingo. Surprisingly it's not the case for Foxy.
Foxy do have a 90 ball newbie room but access is for first time depositors only and it is limited to three days! The only other free bingo room is the VIP Room which is only open to Elite Club members only. In other words it looks like Foxy has pretty much decided to do away with free bingo.
Best Free Offers For New Players
The big question therefore is this in response to forthcoming taxation issues or is it a change in direction for Foxy? If you compare and contrast four of the biggest names who use the Cassava/Dragonfish platform then you can see just how things are different.
Free Newbie = Free Newbie Room
Some Positives For New Foxy Players
For a new player seeking a free taster then there's little incentive to join Foxy Bingo over the other brands shown. The positives for Foxy are that less bonus cash equates to less money to wager before winnings can be withdrawn plus a depositors free bingo room means less competitors!
If it's a change in direction for Foxy then it does put them on par with the likes of Tombola who are more about the games as opposed to the bonuses. However we've always felt that Foxy are wise old hats at this game and that the move could be them getting themselves set up early for bigger industry changes ahead.
Will 2017 End Free Bingo?
Either way 2017 promises to be an intriguing time for all in bingo. Freebies in any form - from no deposit bonuses to spins and tickets - are great incentives to get people interested in signing up. Without them a brand needs to be offering something that people want and can't get elsewhere, which may explain Tombola's success.
So what next? It'll be interesting to see what comes first - Foxy reinstating their no deposit bonus or other brands following suit and slowly dropping their free incentives to new and established players. We suspect there's more chance of the former happening over the latter. Freebies work for a lot of brands and it's simply a case of cutting cloth accordingly to accommodate the extra taxes - for example fewer free games and lower bonus prizes!
On reflection Foxy's decision may not be the beginning of the end of free bingo, but we will see a bit more of a shake up in 2017.
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