William Hill and Flutter Entertainment React To Rise of UK Black Market Research

Major operators in the UK have responded to research by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) that black market activity is rising, with William Hill saying it’s a “growing problem we must confront.”

Earlier today on 4 February, a BGC commissioned report titled ‘Review of unlicensed online gambling in the UK’ was published, based on data collected during November and December 2020.

The report found that amount of money staked with unlicensed operators increased from £1.4bn ($1.9bn) to £2.8bn compared to a similar study in 2019. The new research also saw the number of players using black market betting sites increasing from 210,000 two years ago, to 460,000.

The study comes amid the ongoing UK Government review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which is seeking more information about the black market, as well as exploring tighter regulation aimed at player protection.

Operators in the UK have called on the Government and interested stakeholders to address the apparent rise in black market play, which has become “more important now.”

William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said: “Here at William Hill, we have long been concerned by the black market in gambling and the threat it poses to customers.

“Our view of the gambling black market is it’s a growing problem that we must confront.

“Everyone who gambles in Britain deserves protection from illegal operators. We must do all that we can to make sure that remains the case.”

Flutter Entertainment echoed those views, calling for the industry to raise its safer gambling practices.

Flutter Entertainment’s UK and Ireland Division chairman Ian Proctor, added: “The Gambling Act Review is a moment for regulated and responsible operators to ask ourselves how we can raise our game to drive forward enhanced safer gambling practices. 

“The report on the growth of the black market published by PwC today, is an important reminder of the complex challenges operators, Government and other stakeholders must address to ensure that the review of gambling regulation delivers genuine improvements in customer protection, rather than cosmetic change which might inadvertently open the door to greater unlicensed participation in the UK market.”

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