Following detailed investigations, the Betting and Gaming Council has published its full report entitled “Review of Unlicensed Online Gambling in the UK”. Somewhat worryingly, the 66-page report shows that recent concerns over black-market betting are justified.
The data that was used for the BGC’s report covers November and December 2020 and it shows a rise of over 50% in the amount of money that punters wagered with unlicensed gambling operators compared to 2019.
The report states that 460,000 customers used unlicensed sites in the two-month lead up to Christmas as opposed to only 210,000 two years ago. The amount staked also grew significantly (£2.8bn compared to £1.4bn).
The BGC has issued a warning about “the dangers of complacency” in failing to crack down on illegal and unlicensed gambling operators, and many leading figures in the sports betting industry (including those involved in horseracing) are concerned that the Gambling Commission’s emphasis on increasing customer affordability checks may drive bettors towards black-market operations if they are unwilling to comply with licensed operator checks on their income.
It has already been suggested that a ‘safety threshold’ could be introduced that would only permit customers to incur losses of £100 maximum before being asked to provide evidence that they can afford to bet. This would not be a popular move even amongst those that don’t gamble that often.
The chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council says that the latest report highlights the “growing threat to British punters” that the unregulated and unsafe black-market poses. He also stresses that the BGC’s concerns do not indicate that it doesn’t support the Government’s current review of the UK Gambling Act. However, he feels it is imperative that any proposed changes to the gambling industry “must take heed of this latest evidence”.
The BGC’s findings also show that countries which have stricter operator restrictions and a less competitive betting sector have a larger black-market share than the UK. The report highlights Spain, Italy, Norway, and France as prime examples.