BGC welcomes new official figures showing low problem gambling rates in the UK but warn ministers to avoid changes that will drive punters to the black market
New figures released today (TUES) by the Gambling Commission confirm the rates of problem gambling remain low – underlining the need to protect “positive progress” from the threat of a growing black market.
The latest statistics showed the rate of problem gambling for the year to December in 2021 was 0.3 per cent – down from 0.6 per cent 18 months ago. While the rates of problem gambling among women stays steady, and low, at 0.2 per cent.
The fall in rates coincides with the BGC’s launch in 2019, suggesting industry changes to promote fair, transparent and safer betting and gaming, is working.
Whilst this data is welcome it is set against the backdrop of increased use of black market sites in the UK, where British punters using unlicensed sites have more than doubled in just two years and the amount staked is now in the billions of pounds.
A report by PwC has uncovered the shocking scale of that black market across European countries following the introduction of strict new measures on regulated operators.
Norway introduced a state monopoly for all gaming coupled with much wider restrictions, the black market there now accounts for over 66 per cent of all money staked. It is a similar story in France, where online casino games are also a state monopoly and black market gaming accounts for 57 per cent of all money staked.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said:
“Today’s figures are further evidence of that positive progress in raising standards on safer gambling and underline our calls for the Government to take an evidence based approach to the upcoming White Paper.
“Our initiatives have included using advertising to promote safer gambling messages and tools like deposit limits and time-outs, investing more in research and treatment, and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes.
“One problem gambler is one too many, however, and we are determined to keep up the momentum in the months and years ahead.
“As we continue to make progress on problem gambling and drive ever higher standards on safer gaming in the regulated sector, it’s vital Ministers don’t do anything that drives people to the unsafe, unregulated black market online, which has none of the protections or safer gambling interventions that we see with licensed operators. There is no enforcement solution to tackling the black market. You need to stop customers being driven there with further restrictions that are cumbersome, intrusive and ill-thought-through.
“Ministers need to listen to the 119,000 people who’s jobs depend on the regulated betting industry and the millions of punters who overwhelmingly bet safely and responsibly - not the usual suspects from the anti-gambling lobby who just want to ban stuff because they don’t approve of how millions of people choose to spend their own money”.