BGC: Progress on safer gambling duties at risk of a black market wipeout

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has reiterated the need to protect UK gambling’s continued progress on safer gambling objectives from growing black market threats.

The trade body’s warning follows the publishing of the latest industry statistics by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) –  that saw problem gambling % rates for 2021 register 0.3% lower than the previous 0.6 recorded during the previous 18-months. 

Of note, further positive statistics, saw the rates of problem gambling amongst women remain at a low 0.2%. 

The fall in problem gambling rates coincides with the launch of the BGC in 2019 – established as UK Gambling’s unified trade body to promote fair and transparent change by operators and to improve industry standards and conduct.

BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “Today’s figures are further evidence of that positive progress in raising standards on safer gambling and underline our calls for the Government to take an evidence-based approach to the upcoming White Paper.”

“Our initiatives have included using advertising to promote safer gambling messages and tools like deposit limits and time-outs, investing more in research and treatment, and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes.”

Though welcoming positive data trends, Dugher maintained the BGC’s previous warning in that progress was being achieved against an“increased use of black market sites by UK consumers.”

Market research by Big-4 auditor PwC has uncovered that “British punters using unlicensed sites have more than doubled in just two years and the amount staked is now in the billions of pounds”.

The BGC supports evidence-led reforms but warned the government against following European regulatory counterparts that have enforced strict new measures restricting licensed operators.

The same PwC report uncovered that in the monopoly status market of Norway, the black market accounted for over 66% of wagers staked by national consumers. 

Meanwhile, in France, where online casino games are restricted and can only be played legally under the domain of the state monopoly – the black market had grown to take 57% of all money staked online.

Dugher added  – “As we continue to make progress on problem gambling and drive ever higher standards on safer gaming in the regulated sector, it’s vital Ministers don’t do anything that drives people to the unsafe, unregulated black market online, which has none of the protections or safer gambling interventions that we see with licensed operators.”

“There is no enforcement solution to tackling the black market. You need to stop customers being driven there with further restrictions that are cumbersome, intrusive and ill-thought-through.”

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