Citing industry research and a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the BGC said the number of Britons gambling on unlicensed sites has more than doubled in only two years.
It claimed that people playing on black market sites rose from 220,000 users to 460,000 over a two-year timespan, a 109% increase, and said “the amount staked is now in the billions of pounds.”
Based on these findings, the BGC warned policymakers to tread carefully, with the industry body’s Chief Executive Michael Dugher calling this a “dangerous crossroads.”
He said: “We support the Gambling Review but there is a real danger that it leads to the regulated industry being smaller and the illegal black market growing substantially.
“This research is stark about the dangers of the black market, we have to learn lessons from abroad, and make the right choice at this dangerous crossroads.
“BGC members alone employ nearly 120,000 people and pay £4.5bn ($6.1bn) in tax in the UK. The black market, of course, pays no tax and employs no one in our country.”
The BGC compared Britain’s gaming industry to similar European markets, highlighting Norway, France and Spain, among others, as examples of countries where it believes regulation has led to a rise in people playing on unlicensed sites.
Black market gambling accounts for 66% of all money staked in Norway, 57% of all money staked in France and 20% of all money staked in Spain, said the BGC.
Rhadamès Killy, former General Counsel for the French gambling regulator, commented: “When we introduced our regulations in France in 2010, we analysed that the black market was the most extensive in the European states where the statutory regime was the most restrictive.
“A balance is required to effectively regulate without promoting the black market — I believe that balance is best struck when targeted restrictions focus on support for those at risk, but not excessively hinder or punish the wider public.”
In closing, the BGC remarked that it did not want to see “a blanket approach which could force the vast majority who bet safely onto the black market.”