Major Increase in Black Market Betting During the World Cup, New Study Shows

Black market betting surged in UK during the recently held World Cup in Qatar, a UK study reported in end-January. According to new research, the number of UK punters visiting unregulated online black market gambling sites surged during the World Cup.

In December alone, 250,000 persons visited unregulated, black market sites, up from roughly 80,000 in the same month last year, with a comparable increase in November.

The research was conducted for the UK-based Betting and Gaming Council last year to estimate the scope of black market gaming, especially during the Qatar World Cup.

Analysts also discovered that web traffic to sites providing services to problem gamblers who have self-excluded from UK operators increased by nearly 83%.

GamStop, a self-exclusion technology that automatically bans access across all regulated operators, is used by all regulated betting companies in the UK.

However, according to the research, sites unregistered in UK produced 82.68% more visits from 26.88% more unique customers during Nov-Dec 2022 compared to the previous two month period, spending on average 78% more time on site.

During that two-month timeframe, approximately 64,500 vulnerable players searched for black market betting sites that avoided GamStop.

The study also revealed peaks in traffic to black market sites during Cheltenham in March and Ascot in June, indicating that horse racing is frequently targeted by illegal gambling firms.

According to industry experts, signing up to a black market site and making your first wager takes less than 30 seconds, compared to an average of 12 minutes with a regulated UK operator.

This is due to the fact that UK operators are required to conduct thorough identity and age verification checks in order to avoid problem gambling and fraud.

Lessons for other European markets

The study reveals the grave harm that the growing risky, unregulated black market poses to punters, a reality that EOGL has insisted on for years.

While the regulated business went to great pains to protect young people during the World Cup by adhering to rigorous regulations and promoting safer gambling, it appears that black market operators preyed on the weak.

These illegal sites provide none of the safer gaming tools urged by our members, pay no taxes and employ no one, donate nothing to sports or services addressing gambling damage, and do nothing to safeguard vulnerable players.

This data demonstrates that the World Cup triggered a number of concerning gambling patterns in the UK, not in the regulated sector, as anti-gambling prohibitionists expected, but in the risky unregulated black market online.

Overall, the number of UK visitors to black market websites climbed by 46% in 2022, with over 148,000 clients accessing unlawful sites each month.

According to a separate PwC study, the number of users utilizing unlawful betting websites has more than doubled, from 210,000 in 2019 to 460,000 in 2020, with billions of dollars wagered.

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