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Report warns: 40% of the most popular betting sites are under-regulated

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A new ARF report suggests that 40% of the most popular betting sites are under-regulated or currently not regulated.


It is known that licensing and regulations play a significant role in the security of online gaming and betting.

That is why it caused quite a stir when the ARF's recent report indicated that about 40% of the most popular betting sites globally are either unregulated or under-regulated.

The report includes the most popular betting sites used by millions of players worldwide daily.

A report of concern

The Asian Racing Federation Council on Anti-illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime (ARF Council) recently reviewed 534 betting websites. The study included 262 betting sites with about 1million+ visitors monthly and a random sample of 93 other betting websites. It also consists of an existing list of 179 websites which has already been identified as a suspect in irregularities. The latter are sites believed to be unlicensed and unregulated.

All websites on the list have been examined to see if correct licensing exists for all jurisdictions they cater to. And whether or not they follow the proper regulatory protocols for these regions.

According to the report, about 60% were classed as licensed and regulated, and a further 23% fell under the class of licensed but under-regulated. The latter were operators operating in jurisdictions where they didn't have licenses. And then 17% were wholly unlicensed and unregulated.

A notable trend

According to the report, one of the trends among the unlicensed and unregulated sites was to use mirror websites. This is where the same betting website gets hosted on more than one URL to help them evade attracting regulatory attention.

The ARF Council stated that any operators using a mirror site were counted as unlicensed and unregulated. The reason is that they did not carry licensing to operate the URL for the mirror website.

Surprisingly, the report shows that many operators experience more traffic on these mirror websites than on their licensed and regulated domains. Some of the operators will get up to 11 times more traffic on mirror sites than on their actual domain.

Random sample results

Of the randomly selected 93 websites, it shows that only 54% were licensed and regulated. A further 23% were licensed but under-regulated, and 24% were unlicensed and unregulated.

Of the sample websites that have been thought to be unlicensed and unregulated, 89% were, while only 11% were licensed but unregulated. And no fully licensed and regulated sites anywhere to be found in the sample.

Final figures

According to the ARF Council, this comes down to only 39% of the complete list of 534 casino sites being licensed and regulated. This includes the list already suspected of being unlicensed.

The council says that of the entire list of 534 websites it examined, less than half could be classified as licensed and regulated. Only 207, or 39%, had been licensed and regulated. And if you remove the target sample of 179 websites already suspected as unlicensed or unregulated, the list of regulated websites among the remaining 355 increases to 58%.

However, while the percentage of licensed and regulated sites does increase, it doesn't change the fact that more than 40% of websites in this randomised sample lack licensing.

Licensing concerns

The ARF states that many websites found licensed yet under-regulated are approved within the same jurisdictions. The sites are licensed by one of three jurisdictions: Malta, Curacao, and the Philippines. Of the licensed but under-regulated sites, 31% are licensed by Curacao, 18% are MGA licensed operators, and 13% by the Philippines.

Thus, based on the report, there is great concern regarding the licensing and regulation of betting sites as over 40% of sites are unregulated or under-regulated. This means that the betting industry is 'hybridised' between legal and illegal, according to the ARF Council. It is becoming a big concern as the distinctions are becoming increasingly blurred and even non-existent to both bettors and regulators.

With technology like mirror websites, third-party software, and cryptocurrency, anyone can become a bettor or an online bookmaker no matter your jurisdiction or the gambling laws.

It's no secret that illegal websites are a massive problem and impact responsible gambling initiatives. Many regions like the USA are working hard to bring down illicit sites, but many grey areas make it difficult. It's unclear how operators will proceed, but the hope is that these popular sites will get regulatory approval to continue legally within current regions.

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