New BGC study says 80% of UK gamblers fear restrictions will fuel the black market

According to a recent study commissioned by UK gambling industry trade group Betting and Gaming Council, 80% of punters fear restrictions on betting would likely drive customers to unregulated black market gambling sites.

The survey, carried out by YouGov for the BGC, reveals that 79% of players said that increased restrictions “would result in people moving to unregulated websites.” Meanwhile, 70% of Brits said they would consider a different bookmaker if they were asked to provide “private financial documents” in order to place a bet.

The study comes as players gear up for Cheltenham Festival, the biggest week for UK horse racing. Around 280,000 people will attend the event, generating an estimated GBP 274 million for the local economy, while an estimated GBP 1 billion ($1.2 billion) will be staked across four days of racing. 

The new study also comes as the Government nears the publication of a Gambling White Paper setting out new reforms to betting and gaming. The BGC has expressed concern that so-called “affordability” checks, which it argues have been set at a low level, compelling gamblers to prove they have the means to bet, “could drive people away from licensed bookmakers to the gambling black market.” The group also cites concern clients would reject any affordability check requesting financial paperwork.


BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “This research is the latest in a series of outlining the genuine concerns of millions of ordinary punters who feel that the people making decisions about the future of betting are out of touch and have never had a bet in their lives.”

We want to see genuinely non-intrusive checks, which use technology to carefully target and protect the tiny minority of vulnerable punters, but intrusive, blanket, low level so-called ‘affordability’ checks will be universally rejected by punters.”

For Dugher, an intrusive and blanket approach “risks having the opposite” effect by pushing punters into the black market, which offers no safer gambling tools like time outs and deposit limits, doesn’t support the economy or sport and doesn’t pay taxes.

Ministers should listen to the millions of punters enjoying Cheltenham rather than pander to a naive and snobbish minority of anti-gambling prohibitionists,” he concluded.

According to a recent study cited by the BGC, the numbers using black market sites have doubled in recent years from 210,000 to 460,000, and the money staked is in the billions. Another study found the number of UK punters visiting unregulated online black maker gambling sites tripled during last year’s World Cup. 

In December alone 250,000 people visited black market sites compared to around 80,000 during the same month the previous year, with a similar jump in November. Meanwhile, a recent survey of RacingTV members showed 15% of 3,500 respondents said that they bet, or they know someone who bets, with an unregulated online bookmaker, and nearly 80% said they would not want to see mandatory limits in gambling spend.