Risk of Black Market Gambling in the UK Is Hugely Exaggerated

When did you last visit a black market gambling site? If you live in the UK, the answer is probably ‘never’. And, that’s despite recent claims of a thriving black market industry within the UK.

Some betting operators have reported a threat to the gambling industry from black market operators, but the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has said that they’re overstating the┬áproblem.

A report published last month by PwC showed that around 2.5% of visits to online gambling websites were to black-market websites over a 12-month period in 2018 and 2019. That’s the equivalent of 27 million searches.

Why the report into black-market gambling is problematic

According to the UKGC, the findings of the report do not match the evidence. The UKGC’s Chief Executive, Neil McArthur, says that the report is “not consistent with the intelligence picture”. This is because the report doesn’t take account of how many bots contributed to the 27-million searches.

Any of you who work in digital marketing, or who have a good understanding of the web, will know that, for various reasons, bots account for a lot of online traffic.

What legitimate betting operators are saying?

The legitimate betting operators are arguing that black market operators are a threat to both their sites and to gamblers. At the same time, they’re arguing that strict regulations within the gambling industry are driving gamblers to black-market sites.

As age-verification, stricter ID laws, and affordability checks become more commonplace, the gambling operators argue that it will drive non-eligible players to seek alternative gambling platforms.

In other words, they believe the UK’s strict gambling laws are driving the black market gambling industry. They’re calling for the government to start cracking down on dodgy operators.

What does the GCUK say?

The UKGC believes that online casino operators are exaggerating the threat. They argue that the evidence indicates that the problem is negligible. They further argue that the premise that stricter legislation drives black-market gambling is wrong.

McArthur went on to say that “despite reports from consultants paid for by the industry, [it] should not distract from the need to continue to drive up standards and make gambling safer in the regulated market”.

A picture of "market" written in scrabble letters and in black and white. To represent black market.