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The UK is falling behind with control of black market gambling

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Research shows there is a shocking amount of black market gambling spread throughout Europe.


The focus of online casino industry is more prominently focused on providing a safe and secure betting experience. Gaming authorities across the globe are hard at work to ensure users can enjoy a more secure betting environment.

The battle against black-market gambling continues and it seems the UK needs to increase efforts to curb this illegal form of wagering.

European countries at risk

According to research for the Betting and Gaming Council, there is a shocking amount of black-market gambling throughout European countries. This is after the introduction of new and stricter measures to regulate licensed operators.

The research reveals there is an increase in black market gambling with the number of users at such sites doubling over the past two years. The statistics reveal that British punters playing at unlicensed sites have jumped from 220,000 to 460,000 and are staking billions of pounds.

When you look at other markets and their new regulations, there is plenty of concern. Norway introducing a state monopoly for all gaming as well as restrictions on stakes, affordability checks, and advertising leads to a black market where over 66% of all funds are stakes.

France also has a state monopoly on online casinos games and there the black market accounts for 57% of gaming stakes. In Italy, where no betting or gaming advertising is allowed, the black market accounts for about 23% of the total stakes. And in Spain, the 2020 Royal Decree put a total ban on gambling advertising which pushes 20% of money stakes towards underground economy gambling thanks to players not knowing where safe gambling is available.

Denmark also tightens their restrictions on the availability of loyalty rewards like bonuses at licensed operators which led to a 9% increase in possible black market share. The national survey found 38% of consumers self-excluding from legal operators but still betting with unlicensed operators in Sweden.

More restrictions = More unsafe gambling?

According to the PWC report, it indicated that there is a more ‘open’ UK online gambling market while at the same time having a smaller unlicensed market than other European casinos benchmark.

The PWC report states that it’s not entirely possible to isolate what impact of individual regulatory characteristics leads to the increase or decrease in black market gaming. However, it seems to be that the common denominator is an increase in restrictive regulatory or licensing characteristics means more black market gambling.

It is concerning considering the black market revenue in European regions such as Norway has tripled since 2010 and it has nearly doubled in France since 2015.

The Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) Chief Executive, Michael Dugher, says they support the Gambling Review, but the real danger is that it indicates the regulated market becoming smaller and the black market growing substantially. According to Dugher, they have to learn lessons from abroad and make the right choice at this ‘dangerous crossroads.’

Dugher adds that the BGC members alone employ almost 120,000 people and pay £4.5 billion in taxes in the UK. The black market, on the other hand, has no employees and pays no tax within the country. Any shift to the black market is therefore putting the regulated market at risk as well as the £350 million a year they provide in sponsorship, media rights, and betting levies.

A need for regulated gambling

A balance must be found to conquer black market gambling across Europe. UK operators must adhere to high standards including strict ID and age verification checks. Currently, they allow no betting via credit card and take part in self-exclusion checks. There is also instant access available to several safer gambling tools like time-outs and deposit limits to manage your gaming.

The industry needs these rules while also making sure that gamblers can find safe and responsible sites to spend their time and money on, rather than the black market as it currently exists.

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