UK Gamblers Ready to Switch to Illegal Sites Because of Upcoming Restrictions

Posted on: June 28, 2022, 05:58h. 

Last updated on: June 28, 2022, 08:32h.

The idea that an overly restrictive legal gambling market would lead to an increase in illegal activity isn’t new. This doesn’t stop countries like the UK from going too far. But a new YouGov survey confirms the suspicions.

Michael Dugher in a Coral betting shop in London
Michael Dugher in a Coral betting shop in London. The Betting and Gaming Council boss warns the legal gambling industry in the UK will see a drop as the government introduces more restrictions. (Image: The Scotsman)

A certain sector of the public in the UK believes that gambling operators should not be able to offer any type of promotions, including free bets. They’re lobbying for the change, perhaps unaware of what will happen next.

New data shows that a ban on promotions, including free bets, would drive almost a third of gamblers to the black market. In addition, it would rob the horse racing industry of millions of dollars it needs to survive.

Listen to the Facts

Anti-gambling campaigners demand that the UK ban promotions from its forthcoming reforms to the Gambling Act. This despite the fact that 69% of customers believe they should be allowed.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) highlights a recent survey YouGov conducted to put its finger on the pulse of the consumer. In addition to overwhelming support for promotions, 63% said that promotions are a valuable part of their hobby.

Not surprisingly, almost one-third of respondents (28%) stated they would consider black-market betting if ministers ignore their popularity and impose a strict ban. In addition, the BGC points out that the horse racing industry would lose around £5 million (US$6.13 million) per year. This would be a “double blow” to the industry.

Blanket bans on offers would be anti-punter and would severely degrade that customer experience, punishing the overwhelming majority of punters who bet safely. Problem gambling is 0.2 per cent. Imagine the outcry if supermarkets were forced to ban offers and promotions for beer and wine? We see no difference to our industry,” said Betting and Gaming Council CEO Michael Dugher.

Under the current regime, which has led to a 50% decrease in problem gambling, gamblers need to ask for promotional offers when they open an account. In addition, they can also stop receiving them at their discretion.

Should one-third of the gambling population move offshore, the UK economy would take a massive hit. The gambling industry supplies 119,000 jobs and gives £4.4 billion (US$5.39 billion) in tax revenue each year.

Government Overstepping Limits

The BGC agrees that controls are a good thing, but points out that an “evidence-led approach to gambling reform” is necessary. The evidence doesn’t support sweeping changes that would impact the entire industry. Instead, any changes should target vulnerable players, and not the vast majority of people who gamble safely.

In addition, the BGC asserts that the government shouldn’t have any say in how people spend their money. The upcoming gambling reform could place limits on how consumers spend their disposable income, restricting spending on gambling activity.

Previous studies have shown that black-market gambling has doubled in two years. It went from 220,000 to 460,000 users, and UK consumers are now spending billions of pounds offshore.

The new gambling model politicians are presenting stifles consumers. It includes provisions requiring gamblers to produce financial records, such as bank statements, in order to wager even £100 (US$122.71) per month.

Through sponsorship, media rights, taxes and fees, the regulated gambling and betting industry contributes approximately £350 million (US$429.48 million) annually each year to horse racing in Britain. During the pandemic, this funding was crucial. However, the government’s new measures, which it will present in the coming weeks, may negatively impact that revenue.