The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has issued a new warning on the dangers of the illegal black market ahead of the government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005, which has reportedly been delayed to May this year.
As the UK government continues its review of the Gambling Act and considers imposing tighter measures on the gambling market, a report from the BGC has unveiled new research highlighting the “shocking scale” of black market gambling across Europe after the introduction of strict new measures on regulated operators in countries.
According to the BGC, countries such as Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden all experienced an increase in black market gambling after each country launched tighter measures on gambling, such as restrictions on stakes, a ban on advertising, tighter restrictions on promotions, and more.
The findings were uncovered from industry research and a PWC report conducted for the BGC. The report said: “This analysis suggests that the UK has a more ‘open’ online gambling market and currently has a smaller unlicensed market share than our European benchmarks.
“Whilst it is not possible to isolate the impact of individual regulatory characteristics, the above assessment suggests that jurisdictions with a higher unlicensed market share tend to exhibit one or more restrictive regulatory or licensing characteristics.”
The BGC has confirmed that British punters using unlicensed gambling sites more than doubled in the last two years, rising from 220,000 users to 460,000, and the amount now staked is reportedly in the billions of pounds.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said in a statement: “We support the gambling review but there is a real danger that it leads to the regulated industry being smaller and the illegal black market growing substantially.
“This research is stark about the dangers of the black market, we have to learn lessons from abroad, and make the right choice at this dangerous crossroads.”
He continued: “BGC members alone employ nearly 120,000 people and pay £4.5 billion in tax in the UK. The black market, of course, pays no tax and employs no one in our country.
“Any shift to the unsafe black market would also jeopardise the £350m a year which our members currently give to horseracing in sponsorship, media rights, and the betting levy – financial support which has proved crucial during the pandemic.”