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YouGov’s Research Gives ‘Credence to Industry’s Concerns’

A survey conducted by global public opinion and data company YouGov confirmed industry fears that a further tightening of the regulated gambling market in the UK is likely to work in favor of the black market.

Regulation is Very Important

Conducted across a demographic of UK bettors who had wagered on sports in the previous 12 months, the research revealed that 17% of the respondents will place bets on sporting events via unlicensed websites if they happen to present more favorable betting conditions such as odds or fewer account restrictions, compared to the regulated operators.

On the other side, asked about the importance of having betting sites regulated, a vast majority of 78% responded that regulation is very important, 14% believe it is not important and another 3% consider regulation as not very important or at all important.

According to the survey findings, just 2% of respondents admitted to currently using unlicensed sites to wager on sports, another 3% said they were unsure whether the website they use was regulated or not, and an overwhelming 94% of bettors place their wagers through regulated operators.

Representative of 12% of the total British population, the survey focused on betting advantages and failed to ask specifically about bettors’ response to the introduction of affordability check and it is not clear whether gamblers will elect for unlicensed operators to avoid the checks.

The research conducted by YouGov is the second one since the beginning of 2022 after the market and research firm was commissioned by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) to ask the public about upcoming affordability checks.

The BGC-commissioned survey showed 58% of respondents are strongly opposing the regulatory measure. Furthermore, 59% responded that any government-imposed investigation requirement into customer finances would most likely lead to a substantial risk of customers switching to black market operators.

In the light of the most recent study findings after the BGC-commissioned research, YouGov stated that the research findings “do lend some credence to the industry’s concerns.”

Too Tight Regulation May Be Detrimental

There was not a single month without the BGC warning officials of the dangers to the industry and the wider economy, warning that any restrictive measures may also hinder efforts to protect the public.

In January, the BGC reacted to the YouGov survey and BGC CEO Michael Dugher labeled the findings “a wake-up call showing the potential dangers of introducing blanket affordability checks on anyone who likes a flutter,” while outlining the “once in a generation opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling” the government has.

In February, the BGC called on the government to “learn lessons from abroad,” citing research on black markets in other European countries, Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden, following the introduction of strict new gambling measures.

Just days ago, BGC CEO Dugher issued a statement on how re-regulating the industry in a time of a global pandemic may compound the already existing issues brought on by the shutdowns, warning officials not to introduce “naïve changes.”

The tighter regulation is expected to arrive in May when the government should complete the ongoing Gambling Act 2005 review and release the White Paper.