Underage gambling is becoming a threat in the U.K. Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has been concerned about the effect that these operations may have on underaged users, and the fact that these operators are lax in ID verification is seen as a considerable risk.
As a result, BGC has called upon the U.K. government to crack down on illegal gambling operations conducting business within the country. This push comes as part of the new Online Harms Bill, which the BGC has been advocating for as a means to control unregulated operators who are not verifying the age of participants.
BGC conducted a study and found that four out of every 10 search results for gambling-related terms resulted in links to an internationally licensed online gambling site. The research was based on 47 search terms and resulted in 8,825 organic search results. It was found that 78% related to gambling operators. Nonetheless, when duplicate results were removed, the search was able to identify 229 operators not holding a UK license.
Moreover, their study resolved that these non-UK licensees had secured over 27 million visits from IP addresses registered in the U.K. That led to an estimate of 200,000 players in the U.K. who were involved in these sites over the past 12 months, wagering an estimated £1.4 billion ($1.82 billion) in stakes.
Michael Dugher, the chief executive of the BGC, reported that search platforms were promoting black-market gambling operators for profit, putting the British consumers, including children, at risk. He also noted that UK-licensed gambling businesses had taken a zero-tolerance approach to any underage gamblers. Dughar claimed that was not always the case with those international operators, who may skirt rules to allow players of all ages to join.
Besides, Dugher said that they welcomed the Government’s Online Harms Bill as it would also provide the Government with a chance to clamp down on the black market and help protect punters who want a flutter in a safe environment.
The bill is expected to be presented in the House of Commons within the next week and provide new regulations that protect children and also stop the spread of terrorist materials. This bill was first announced during the Queen’s Speech and was set as a primary agenda item for the governing Conservative Party.