Ahead of the publication of the White Paper on the 2005 Gambling Act review, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has issued a warning to legislators on the black market. 

In a video release on the trade standards body’s YouTube Channel, Simon Clare, Consumer PR Director, Ladbrokes Coral, observed that by searching ‘GAMSTOP’ in a Google UK search engine, users can find a list of illicit sites not registered on the self-exclusion scheme. 

This included operators providing sports betting, casino games and slot titles, none of which included safer gambling features such as deposit limits, and accepting a range of payment methods such as Visa, Neteller and Skrill.

The BGC has also evaluated the British gambling scene against some of its European counterparts, observing that many other countries on the continent face higher problem gambling rates. In contrast, the rates in the UK are declining, something BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher addressed in an interview with Star Sports last year. 

Of greater significance to the trade association, however, were the figures surrounding the prevalence of black market operations, particularly in countries where either state monopolies exist or strict regulations have been implemented. 

The BGC noted that in Norway and France, the introduction of state monopolies has led to black market operators now accounting for 66|% and 57% of all staked money.

As tighter restrictions on gambling advertising are also a potential outcome of the 2005 Gambling Act review, the BGC also pointed to Italy and Spain – where betting marketing is heavily restricted – with the black market accounting for 23% and 20% of all wagers staked in both countries, whilst also referring to Sweden and Denmark.

The trade association has long maintained that greater restrictions on the British betting industry and its customers, such as enhanced affordability checks, could drive punters towards unlicensed, unregulated operators – although gambling reform advocates have often criticised these claims as little more than scaremongering. 

A UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) statement on the issue, featured in the BGC’s video release, read: “We need to be increasingly fleet of foot and may need a broader range of tools to tackling emerging risks.”

Meanwhile, John Whittingdale, former Gambling Minister, said: “The danger of driving people towards the black market is a real one, and needs to be borne in mind.”

BGC: The black market threat to British punters