PwC Report Finds Huge Rise in UK Offshore Gambling

A new report from PwC has found that the number of people in the UK gambling at unregulated websites has hugely increased over the past year.

£2.8 billion was spent with offshore operators

According to the report, 2.2% of gamblers used unregulated websites in 2018/19, and this had risen to 4.5% in 2020. Furthermore, spending on these unregulated websites has also increased. The report claims that £2.8 billion was spent with offshore operators in November 2020 compared to £1.4 billion throughout 2018/19.

However, PwC did say that regulators have done a good job of keeping offshore operators away from searches. It found that illegal operators were searched for just 5% of the time in 2020 compared to 12% in 2018/19.

Furthermore, the report found that there were just 98 offshore gambling sites listed in the first ten pages of Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) results and that only 14 of them would accept customers from the United Kingdom. This suggests that the UK regulations are doing a good job of scaring unlicensed operators away from trying to impinge on the market.

Nonetheless, the report concluded that overall spending and usage of unlicensed gambling websites has increased in the UK at the same time as awareness has increased about the dangers of doing so.

The report has been seized upon by groups such as the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) as evidence that the UK government must be careful when carrying out its Gambling Revue. The BGC’s CEO, Michael Dugher, has warned that overregulation of the industry could send more players to unlicensed sites in search of products that are no longer allowed in the UK.


William Hill (LON: WMH) has said that the report may not have uncovered the full seriousness of the issues and pointed to the 59 enforcement actions that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) took against illegal operators in 2019/20. The company’s CEO, Ulrik Bengtsson, also highlighted that offshore operators are becoming more technologically advanced, making it easier for UK players to turn to them.

However, Neil McArthur, the UKGC CEO, has said that the fears brought up by the industry are exaggerated and that offshore operators do not pose that great a threat. Nonetheless, it would not be surprising to see the regulatory body bring in even tougher measures to combat the black market in the coming months.

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