BGC Warns UK Government Ahead of Gambling White Paper

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is urging the government to protect vulnerable players in its forthcoming Gambling White Paper as research reveals that the number of gamblers turning to black market websites has more than doubled in two years.

The research, which includes a PWC report commissioned by the BGC, is yet to be published, but it is set to be in response to the government’s Gambling White Paper, which is part of its Gambling Act Review being led by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report found that the number of players on unlicensed websites increased from 220,000 to 460,000, and the total amount bet is thought to be in the billions.

The report also found that black market gambling is common across Europe. In Norway, it is thought to account for 66% of all money bet, while in France, it is 57%. In Italy, where gambling advertising is banned, the figure is said to be 23%.

The report believes that it is the strict gambling rules in these countries, such as product limitations and monopoly structure, which lead to the high levels of black-market play.

At the end of last year, the BGC appealed to the government to focus on child protection in its Gambling White Paper. Meanwhile, the BGC chief executive, Michael Dugher, has warned that restrictive regulations will only serve to benefit the black market.

Michael Dugher - BGC Chief Executive

We support the Gambling Review but there is a real danger that it leads to the regulated industry being smaller and the illegal black market growing substantially. This research is stark about the dangers of the black market, we have to learn lessons from abroad, and make the right choice at this dangerous crossroads. Any shift to the unsafe black market would also jeopardize the £350m a year which our members currently give to horseracing in sponsorship, media rights and the betting levy – financial support which has proved crucial during the pandemic.

Michael DugherBGC Chief Executive

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