UKGC pushes back on gambling industry’s black market claims

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is pushing back on some wild claims made in a gaming industry-funded study on black market gambling that was produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Commissioners say the industry is hiding behind the specter of black market gambling in a bid to unshackle itself of burdensome regulations aimed at curbing problem gambling.

At the heart of the spat is a PwC report that makes some pretty shocking claims about the black market gambling habits of UK punters. Among them is the claim that between 2018 and 2019, some 200,000 UK gamblers dropped about an astounding £1.4 billion ($1.9 billion USD) on sites that were not licensed to operate in the UK. That comes out to be about 2.5 percent of the entire online gambling market, the study says.

UK online gambling operators used the study to suggest that maybe the government shouldn’t regulate them so much and maybe they wouldn’t be losing players (and tax revenue!) to the black market. Maybe, just maybe if there was somehow less regulation, there would be fewer black market players.

Not surprisingly the argument from the UK Betting and Gambling Council, an industry-funded trade group, didn’t go over well with the UKGC and other politicians.

In a statement reported on by the Guardian, Labour MP Carolyn Harris quashed the idea saying, “The online gambling industry talks up the threat of the black market in an attempt to resist regulation and protect its profits, but trying to hijack the debate by manufacturing dodgy dossiers of information to further their own ends is an incredibly transparent tactic and will not be any kind of excuse to hold down standards.”

In short, UK-facing online gambling operators can expect continued regulation for the foreseeable future.