More UK gamblers use illegal gambling sites

Simona Boshkova | Published 9 Feb 2021, 9:56 a.m.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced a series of strict measures that must be implemented by operators. These include the introduction of limits on spin speeds on online slots as well as the ban of autoplay and some other in-game features. Furthermore, a permanent ban on reverse withdrawals will come into effect, and all of these measures are part of the UK Gambling Act Review

As we’ve reported last week, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) supported the new initiatives from UKGC. In addition, the Council has come up with its latest report on UK gamblers using illegal online websites. As it seems, the number of UK gamblers using illegal gambling sites has increased.

Worries for the illegal gambling trends

A couple of days ago, the Betting and Gaming Council has published its report called ‘Review of unlicensed online gambling in the UK’. The report is based on data collected between November and December 2020 and it can be found on the BGC official website. The 66-page report shows that a total of £2.8 billion was staked on illegal online gambling sites in 2020, compared to £1.4 billion in 2019. In addition, it shows that the number of customers using unlicensed gambling sites has increased from 210,000 in 2019 to 460,000 in 2020.

The study is part of the ongoing Government review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which looks for more information about the illegal gambling market as part of its Call for Evidence. The Council expressed worries within the gambling industry that more customers would turn to illegal websites if the review results in too strict and limiting measures. In addition, the report suggests that the illegal gambling market is larger in countries with tougher regulations, such as Spain, France, Italy and Norway.

The BGC continues to support further changes in the regulated UK gambling industry, but it is urging ministers to make sure that the measures are carefully thought out. Michael Dugher, the BGC’s chief executive, said that the new report is impressive and comprehensive and shows how the unsafe black market is a threat to British punters. According to him, illegal sites don’t have the necessary consumer protections in place, such as strict ID and age verification checks, safer gambling messages and the ability to set deposit limits.

UKGC fines Aspers Stratford Casino for a series of failures

While the Gambling Act Review is still in progress, the UK Gambling Commission hasn’t stopped reviewing the gambling operators. Recently, the regulator announced that issued a warning to Aspers Stratford City Casino for a series of failures including money laundering processes, failing to comply with customer interaction rules and breaching cash desk policy rules. As a result, the casino received a £652,500 fine.

In December 2018, the UKGC started a review of Aspers Stratford’s operating licence following a tragic incident that happened after an individual visited the casino. The regulator looked at compliance with regulatory requirements and found a couple of failures. For that reason, it imposed the financial penalty to Aspers Stratford, along with a warning. At the same time, Aspers Stratford will have to undertake a follow-up independent audit of its procedures within six months to ensure that improvements are effective. Finally, the casino will also divest itself of the gross gambling yield to the sum of £78,233.00 which it accumulated as a result of its failings.

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