The Betting and Gaming Council has warned of the threat posed by black market sites, after revealing that British players visited unregulated sites 27 million times in a year.
A report by PWC revealed that 200,000 customers used an unlicensed gambling operator over a 12 month period between 2018 and 2019, staking around £1.4bn.
Overall, the industry standards body says that unregulated operators accounted for 2.5 per cent of all visits to betting websites, amounting to 27 million visits in total. Furthermore, approximately one in 10 of all gambling search results were for black market sites.
“As the standards body for the regulated industry, we strongly welcome the gambling review, which we think is a great opportunity to drive further change on safer gambling,” explained Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council.
“However, these figures from PWC demonstrate the danger of unintentionally driving punters into the arms of the illegal, online black market – which offers none of the protections of the regulated sector.
“The regulated betting and gaming industry employs 100,000 men and women and pays £3.2bn a year in tax to the Treasury, so the government needs to be wary of doing anything that puts that at risk.
“Millions of people in the UK enjoy an occasional flutter, whether that is on sports, at the bingo, on the lottery or online, and it is vitally important that they are able to do so in a safe environment, rather than the unscrupulous black market.”
The findings follow the government launching its review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which has led to renewed warnings surrounding black market operators, who have none of the safeguards put in place by the regulated sector.
These include strict ID and age verification checks, plus a wide range of safer gambling tools such as deposit limits, time outs and interventions where customers are spending more time or money than they normally do betting.