In an attempt to prevent the implementation of tougher online gambling regulations, the scale of black market betting has been overstated by UK betting firms in a recently published dossier.
Leading online gambling firms in the UK have recently used findings in a dossier written by PwC as a way to influence an upcoming government review into the regulation of online gambling. The dossier claimed that over 200,000 people in the United Kingdom are spending over £1.4 billion each year gambling on black market websites. The firms believe that stricter regulations would increase those numbers due to forcing more people to gamble at these sites.
However, Neil McArthur, the chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, is not convinced of the accuracy of these findings. His assessment, delivered via letter to the group of MP’s currently examining the potential harm of gambling, he claimed the report lacked any significant evidence to support its claims.
MacArthur claims that evidence collected by the UKGC does not align with that in the report and suggests there is evidence that the report overstated by UK betting firms was even commissioned by leading online gambling firms.
According to MacArthur, regulators should be concerned about black market operations but not at the proportions suggested by the report. Additionally, as the report, written by a consultant, was paid for by the gambling industry itself, an even larger pinch of salt should be taken.
New Restrictions Could Negatively Impact Profits of UK Betting Firms
MacArthur is keen to make it clear why the black market has been overstated by UK betting firms in the first place. The upcoming government review into online gambling is expected to result in stricter regulations, and this is an attempt to persuade against those regulations.
Such damning criticism from the UK Gambling Commission will be particularly damaging for the Betting and Gaming Council. The BGC has aggressively used the findings in the dossier as ammunition for their argument against imposing stricter regulations.
UK betting firms are fearful that stricter regulations will affect their profits. Among muted restrictions includes limiting stakes placed on video slot machines and forcing betting sites to perform extensive affordability checks on customers that wager over a specific amount each month.
Other recommendations that are being considered include banning gambling adverts online and on television, the banning of VIP schemes at online casinos, and even slower spins on slot machines to reduce the speed of games.
Black Market Overstated by UK Betting Firms GVC, William Hill, and The Stars Group
Even more damning is that a draft version of the report from April 2019 contains a reference to the companies who were responsible for commissioning it. Conveniently omitted from the final report in July 2019, those companies were the parent companies that own Ladbrokes, William Hill, and SkyBet.
That latest revelation has led to many government officials questioning the credibility of the BGC and the industry as a whole. Even worse is that this is not the first time the UK betting industry has used this tactic to prevent the tightening of regulations.
In 2018, the government was considering reducing the max stake on fixed-odds betting terminals located within high street bookmakers. The recommendation was to slash the max bet from £100 to £2. A report written by KPMG claimed that over 20,000 people stood to lose their jobs if such caps were placed on these machines.
That report was later discredited after it emerged that it was commissioned by major companies within the UK betting industry.