UK online black market spend doubles to USD3.8B in 2020, PwC research finds
Nearly 460K people are using unlicensed betting websites, up from 210K two years ago
he amount of money being staked on illegal gambling websites doubled to £2.8 billion (USD 3.8B) in the last year in the UK, according to new research released by PwC on Thursday.
Nearly 460,000 people are using unlicensed betting websites, up from 210,000 two years ago, according to an analysis prepared by PwC for gambling companies, as reported by The Telegraph. “Based on our survey, the proportion of UK online gamblers using an unlicensed operator has increased from 2.2% to 4.5% in the last 1-2 years,” the reports says.
PwC study also found that “those that gamble with unlicensed operators still almost always gamble with licensed operators as well.” The share of online stakes with unlicensed operators has grown from 1.2% in 2018/19 to 2.3%.
Last month, Neil McArthur, UK Gambling Commission CEO said PwC’s findings on the black market in 2019 were “not consistent with the intelligence picture”, having not distinguished between black market sites or automated systems or bots. While the Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Michael Dugher, said the 2020 report was “an impressive and comprehensive piece of work”.
The UK Government launched the Gambling Act 2005 review at the end of last year. Established gambling operators fear that MPs will fail to distinguish between them and unlicensed websites offering bets to UK punters in the review. Major sportsbook operators such as William Hill, Sky Bet and Paddy Power have invested millions of pounds into safer gambling. Some of the licensed companies fear that a wholesale crackdown will drive gambling underground, leaving problem gamblers less, rather than more exposed.
“Illicit sites have none of the regulated sector’s consumer protections in place, such as strict ID and age verification checks, safer gambling messages and the ability to set deposit limits,” Dugher said, according to The Telegraph. “I know this evidence is inconvenient to those who seek to dismiss and play down the threat of the black market, but there is a real danger of complacency. The UK risks sleepwalking into changes where the main beneficiary is the unlicensed black market. We all have an interest in getting future changes right, so must take heed of this latest evidence and look at what is happening elsewhere around the world.”
Culture minister Nigel Huddleston has pledged to include the black market in the Gambling Act review. Ministers have already pledged to raise the minimum age for playing the National Lottery from 16 to 18. The government also wants to ban Britons from buying in-store lottery tickets on credit cards.