A new YouGov survey for the UK's Betting and Gaming Council revealed the concerns of "regular punters" as the Government considers a review of gambling laws. According to the latest results, 67% of bettors believe compulsory limits risk pushing punters to the growing gambling black market, while 64% of the public fear the increased use of illegal sites would trigger a rise in problem gambling rates.
Nearly 70% of people who place a bet said they would not be willing to allow regulated betting and gaming firms to carry out compulsory affordability checks to prove they can afford to wager, which have been called for by campaigners to tackle problem gambling.
The number of people gambling on unsafe black market sites in the UK has doubled from 220,000 to 460,000 in recent years and the amount staked is "in the billions," the BGC warned.
The latest figures from the Gambling Commission show the rate of problem gambling among adults in the UK remains low by international standards at 0.3%, down from 0.4% the year previous, the association pointed out.
The results of our @YouGov poll should be a wake-up for policymakers considering nanny state spending limits on punters - a huge majority fear such a move will drive many to the unsafe, unregulated black market. https://t.co/VB7xEvPo9w pic.twitter.com/MNRPx1i5yo— Betting and Gaming Council (@BetGameCouncil) November 23, 2022
Michael Dugher, CEO of the BGC, said that the YouGov polling was important for ministers to consider as they prepare to publish the gambling white paper in the coming weeks. He urged the Government to adopt a “carefully targeted approach” to ensure they strike the right balance between protecting the vulnerable, whilst not driving "the overwhelming majority who bet safely and responsibly towards the unsafe unregulated black market online."
Dugher commented: "We strongly support the Gambling Review as a further opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling. Ministers have rightly always said it will be an evidence-led process, these poll findings are an important reminder of the risks of getting this wrong by introducing arbitrary blanket spending checks on anyone who likes a flutter."
"Any changes introduced by the Government must be carefully targeted so that we protect the vulnerable and intervene on those showing signs of harm, whilst not driving the vast majority of millions of punters who bet safely towards the growing unsafe black market online, where there are none of the safer gambling protections used by BGC members," he added.
Michael Dugher, BGC's CEO
There are thousands of illegal gambling websites that don’t adhere to the strict standards in the licensed and regulated sector, warns the BGC. This includes targeting problem gamblers, not carrying out strict ID and age verification checks, or offering safer gambling tools, like deposit limits and cooling-off periods.
Regulated operators already intervene when customers are displaying signs of problem gambling or that they may be at risk, the industry body claims. "The BGC is in favor of further enhanced spending checks but believes the focus should be on problem gamblers or those at risk rather than everyone who bets," the group noted.