Fears of a prominent black market have been repeatedly made clear by the British betting and gaming sector as the 2005 Gambling Act review continues, with YouGov data often cited.
Issuing an update, YouGov provided a breakdown of its findings with regards to black market usage, revealing that 17% of British bettors would wager on sports via unlicensed sites if there was an advantage, such as better odds or fewer account restrictions.
The market research firm added that the respondent demographic – UK bettors who had gambled on sports in the previous 12 months – represented 12% of the total British population.
It is important to note, however, the survey did not ask about whether punters would use unlicensed operators to avoid affordability checks, but instead as to whether they would use such sites if they posed a betting advantage over the legal alternative.
The study also noted that although a large number of customers were willing to use unregulated betting firms, the vast majority saw the regulation of betting companies as extremely important.
A total of 78% of respondents said that they saw the regulation of betting websites as important, in comparison to 14% said it was not important and a “slim margin” saw it as not very or at all important at 3%.
As it currently stands, 94% of bettors gamble using regulated sites, in comparison to just 2% who admitted to using unlicensed operators and a further 3% who were unsure as to whether the betting services they used were regulated or not.
Although these figures are promising with regards to customer protection, when coupled with studies conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), a more worrying different picture is presented.
The poll, conducted in January, found that 58% of UK bettors rejected affordability checks whilst 59% believed that such measures would lead to a “large or substantial risk” of customers moving to unlicensed and unregulated betting sites.
“It’s clear the potential changes to the industry brought on by mooted government intervention could have a significant impact,” YouGov detailed.
“Both the government and the industry have a common goal of deterring consumers from entering the unregulated black market. YouGov will be following closely as the industry steps into a new era of betting.”
Michael Dugher, BGC CEO, has repeatedly asserted that the implementation of strict affordability checks could push customers towards the black market, stating that YouGov’s January analysis should have been a “wake-up call” for ministers.
The market research and data analytics firm stated the research it has conducted since the BGC-commissioned study has yielded results that “do lend some credence to the industry’s concerns”.