by Glenn Baird - December 22, 2020
Research carried out by the British Gaming Council (BGC) claims that over 27m hits were made on black-market sites from devices located in the UK over a twelve month period during 2018 and 2019.
It was also estimated that roughly £1.6bn was spent at these illegal sites during that time.
It total, it is estimated that during this period the number of visits to unregulated sites made up 2.5% of all betting traffic.
These findings come at a time when UK gambling is facing big changes following the announcement a few weeks ago that the Gambling Act would be reviewed with tougher restrictions likely to be on the way. The BGC is warning that if those restrictions become too severe there could be increase in the use of these sites.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of BGC, said: “As the standards body for the regulated industry, we strongly welcome the Gambling Review, which we think is a great opportunity to drive further change on safer gambling.
“However, these figures demonstrate the danger of unintentionally driving punters into the arms of the illegal, online black market – which offers none of the protections of the regulated sector.
“The regulated betting and gaming industry employs 100,000 men and women and pays £3.2bn a year in tax to the Treasury, so the Government needs to be wary of doing anything that puts that at risk.
“Millions of people in the UK enjoy an occasional flutter, whether that is on sports, at the bingo, on the Lottery or online, and it is vitally important that they are able to do so in a safe environment, rather than the unscrupulous black market.”
Some of the big changes are likely to see restrictions placed on advertising with the possibility that advertising in sport could go completely. Additionally, it is likely that maximum bet limits will come into place and tougher sanctions will be introduced for operators who do not protect vulnerable customers.
Dowden said: “Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.
“This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.”