According to the latest survey conducted for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), 79 percent of British bettors think that wagering restrictions would make customers turn to black market gambling sites. The study shows that the limitation of amounts to be wagered with licensed operators “would result in people moving to unregulated websites” offering unlimited bets.
Private financial documents:
The poll also showed that 70 percent of British bettors would rather place their bets with bookmakers that do not request them to provide “private financial documents” to be allowed to wager. The BGC had the study conducted ahead of a huge Cheltenham racing event to access the impact of the black market on the local economy and provide the respective insight for the Government before the publication of a Gambling White Paper setting out new reforms to wagering and gaming operations.
Affordability checks drive bettors away:
The study thus revealed that around 280,000 people will attend Cheltenham to generate around £274 million for the local economy out of an estimated £1 billion handle over the four-day event. But bettors and bookmakers are concerned that the ”affordability checks” – requesting punters to prove that they have sufficient assets to place a bet – may turn bettors away from licensed operators to unregulated ones.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher, said: “This research is the latest in a series 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.”
Intrusive approach pushes punters to the black market:
Dugher also said: ”Any intrusive and blanket approach risks having the opposite effect by pushing them into the unsafe, unregulated 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 a penny in tax. Ministers should listen to the millions of punters enjoying Cheltenham rather than pander to a naive and snobbish minority of anti-gambling prohibitionists”.
Betting is very popular in the UK with around 22.5 million adults placing a bet each month. Problem gambling figures are low, with Gambling Commission reporting these levels at a 0.2 percent low. Regulated wagering and gaming markets have generated around 110,000 jobs in the country, as well as a £ 7.1 billion in turnover and £4.2 billion in tax revenues.
The number of black market users increased:
However, studies show that the number of users of unregulated bookmakers has increased from 210,000 to 460,000 over recent years driving the black market handle to billions of pounds. Individual events, such as the last year’s World Cup, have seen the figures triple to benefit the black market. Also, BGC reports the results of a poll indicating that around 15 percent of bettors have used the services of unregulated bookmakers.
Awaiting gambling reforms:
Such individual cases may be used to make general conclusions that the wagering restrictions may drive around 15 percent of bettors to unlicensed bookmakers and accordingly reduce the industry’s gross generated revenue and the country’s tax revenue. The fact that almost 80 percent of bettors would rather avoid mandatory spending limits imposed by licensed bookmakers is a clear message that the Government should accordingly balance the announced gambling reforms.