Unlicensed operators flood the European market, negative attitudes towards gambling decrease in the UK
4H and Legalbet present the traditional news digest.
New data has revealed the shocking size of black market gambling across Europe as industry warns the government that it is “at a dangerous crossroads”, urging ministers to “learn lessons from abroad” in its upcoming gambling review. According to research from the Betting and Gaming Council, British punters using unlicensed sites has more than doubled in just two years, from 220,000 users to 460,000 and the amount staked is now in the billions.
Some commentators note that the gambling black market has increased in the countries that have introduced tight regulation. For instance, Norway introduced a state monopoly for all gaming, coupled with restrictions on stakes, affordability checks and advertising; this resulted in a black market that now accounts for over 66% of all money staked. Meanwhile, in France, where online casino games are also a state monopoly, black market gaming accounts for 57% of all money staked, meaning black market revenues have almost doubled since 2015.
Ivan Kurochkin´s comments
The proliferation of the black gambling market is quite disappointing. The presence of the illegal part of the industry, perhaps, will never be eradicated. However, it is possible to attempt to reduce its market share. There is no perfect recipe, but there are several solutions that could positively affect the situation.
1) First of all, changing the requirements of payment providers. It's no secret that the main source of "life" for the operator is the availability of a payment solution in a particular jurisdiction. As long as providers do not impose strict requirements regarding the presence of a local license that meets the requirements of the jurisdiction of the operator's corporate structure, etc., the black market will flourish.
2) The monopolies cited in the article (Norway, France) lead to the opposite result - without having legal ways to enter the market, operators are looking for all kinds of workarounds, wanting to gain access to the inhabitants of these countries. Therefore, regulation should be strict but balanced. A gambling monopoly is not a cure for illegal operators.
3) Speaking of strict regulation, it is worth developing the practice of the bad actor clause, which, for example, already exists in Romania. An operator that once violated the law will never again be eligible to obtain a license in this jurisdiction.
The above reflections are not the only opportunities to change the market for the better, but they could significantly affect the size of the illegal market in Europe.
A survey from the Gambling Commission suggests British attitudes towards gambling are improving for the first time since the survey began in 2016, after a long period of worsening public perception. The statistics come from the Gambling Commission’s quarterly telephone survey, which examines gambling prevalence, attitudes and rates of harm. The regulator noted that December 2021’s edition, which saw 4,021 people polled.
In the year to December 2020, 63.4% of respondents said that “gambling should be discouraged”. However, in the 2021 edition, this total had dipped to 58.9%. Similarly, the portion of the population who agreed that gambling was “dangerous for family life” dropped from 74.5% to 69.9%, which was the lowest total over the five surveys carried out by the regulator. In addition, the number of people who said that “most who gamble do so sensibly” also hit a new high, of 40.2%. In other statements about attitudes towards gambling, such as “there are too many opportunities for gambling nowadays” or, “gambling livens up life”, a larger number of people expressed positive attitudes towards gambling in 2021 compared to 2020. However, there was not enough of a change to be considered significant.
The same was true of the phrase that “gambling is fair and can be trusted” when looking at the entire population. However, among gamblers specifically, the portion who agreed with this phrase rose from 31.9% to 36.2%. Overall, 42.6% of the population – or 1,713 people in total – said they had gambled in the four weeks before being surveyed. This was roughly in line with 2020’s total of 42%, but was well below the pre-pandemic figure of 47.2%. The portion of the population that had gambled online in the past year was 25.3%.
Ivan Kurochkin´s comments
It is interesting to observe a gradual increase in approval of the gambling industry among the UK population. This is not surprising, because the industry in the UK and many other European countries have a solid basis for regulation: clear licensing requirements, clear legislation, active monitoring of operators' activities.
With such a foundation, the UK authorities can further develop the industry. Now there is an active focus on the rules of responsible gaming: in Britain, an active advertising campaign is being conducted for the population, which explains the mechanisms of struggle and ways to prevent gambling addiction. All these factors are slowly but surely changing the situation for the better.
A survey of young people in France claims there has been a significant increase in moderate to excessive gambling among them since 2014. The survey, conducted by addiction research and treatment body Société d’Entraide et d’Action Psychologique (SEDAP) in partnership with Montreal’s Concordia University, conducted Zoom-based research with 5,000 teenagers, aged between 15 and 17 years old. More than a third of those surveyed (34.8%) said they had gambled at least once in the past twelve months. Of the number that claimed to have gambled in the past year, the report claimed that 12.9% were classed as moderate-risk gamblers, and that 21.9% of that sample were classed as excessive gamblers, based on the Canadian Problem Gambling Index (CPGI). This combined figure marked a significant increase from the 11.0% of moderate to excessive underage players recorded in 2014.
The CPGI is a screening metric that assigns players a score based on their responses to a series of 9 questions about gambling. Anything above 8 in the score on the CPGI denotes excessive play and unhealthy gambling habits. There was significant evidence of increased exposure to gambling advertising, with almost nine out of ten (86.8%) of underage gamblers saying they had read, seen, or heard promotions. Money for gambling generally came from pocket money. Of the 1,740, 51.9% said they used pocket money to gamble, with a further 33.0% saying they received money from their mother that was used for gambling.
Ivan Kurochkin´s comments
The news from France is confirmation of the importance of fighting the illegal market. Underage access to gambling is dangerous. Having tried it as a teenager, players are more likely to develop a gambling addiction as an adult. In general, children cannot consciously make decisions about whether they should participate in gambling, or about what to do during the game itself. What can we say about the fact that when gambling, teenagers do not manage their financial resources, do not know how to emotionally cope with losses and wins, and face many other problems.
Speaking again about the comment regarding the illegal market, the growth of teenage interest in gambling is another very important signal that this situation needs to be combated.