BRITISH punters are using black market bookies twice as much as just two years ago, a shocking new report reveals.
More than £2.8bn was staked with unlicensed operators on the web last year, up from £1.4billion in 2019, according to accounting giants PWC.
Their new data also shows the number of customers using an unlicensed betting website has grown from 210,000 two years ago to 460,000.
It comes as the Betting and Gaming Council warns of “the dangers of complacency” about the threat from unlicensed and illegal gambling operators – amid fears more regulation of bookies will drive even more punters into the arms of the wild west online.
Boss Michael Dugher told HOAR: “This new report by the PWC is an impressive and comprehensive piece of work which demonstrates how the unsafe, unregulated black market is a growing threat to British punters.”
“These illicit sites have none of the regulated sector’s consumer protections in place, such as strict ID and age verification checks, safer gambling messages and the ability to set deposit limits.”
The Government is currently undertaking a review of gambling, with fears that tougher regulation could drive more punters into the arms of unregulated bookies.
Mr Dugher added: “I know this evidence is inconvenient to those who seek to dismiss and play down the threat of the black market, but there is a real danger of complacency.
“The UK risks sleep walking into changes where the main beneficiary is the unlicensed black market.
“We all have an interest in getting future changes right, so must take heed of this latest evidence and look at what is happening elsewhere around the world.”
On the number of British punters using black market sites, the PWC report says: “Based on our survey, the proportion of UK online gamblers using an unlicensed operator has increased from 2.2 per cent to 4.5 per cent in the last 1-2 years.
“This equates to an increase from c210,000 players in 2018-19 to c460,000 in 2020.”
It goes on: “A sizable and growing share of stakes is placed with unlicensed sites, growing over the last 1-2 years broadly in line with usage (ie doubling).
“Those that gamble with unlicensed operators still almost always gamble with licensed operators as well.
“Our survey found that share of online stakes with unlicensed operators had grown from 1.2 per cent in 2018/19 to 2.3 per cent.
“This corresponds to a doubling of stakes with unlicensed online operators from £1.4bn to £2.8bn.”
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