UKGC reports no uplift in illegal gambling website complaints during the COVID-19 lockdown

Fears are often expressed by online gambling operators in reputable jurisdictions worldwide that the greater the gambling regulatory crackdown, the greater the risk that consumer will seek out the services of unlicensed online gambling operators. It is interesting therefore to read the following report published today (19 May 2020) on the UK Gambling Commission’s website:

New data shows no uplift in complaints about illegal gambling

New data released today shows that there has been no increase in the number of complaints about illegal gambling websites during Britain’s Covid-19 lockdown.

The data shows that since 23 March there has been no spike in reports to the Gambling Commission – with a total of 12 complaints about nine sites in March, and 11 complaints surrounding 11 sites during April.

The number of reports has been stable over the past 12 months.

The Commission has a team of specialists who monitor reports of illegal gambling and who then use a variety of tools to combat illegal websites and ensure that they are not offering services to British consumers. The regulator also works with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to educate the industry and the public about the risks of illegal activity.

Richard Watson, Gambling Commission Executive Director, said:

“Our data does not indicate there has been an increase in any illegal gambling in Britain during the Covid-19 crisis. It is an area we monitor carefully and where we find problems we use our broad range of investigatory powers, alongside stakeholders such as software providers, payment businesses and hosting companies. Tackling illegal websites and unlicensed operators is challenging and it is also resource intensive, but we are committed to continuing our work in this area to protect consumers here in Britain.”

Last week, the Commission released new data on the impact Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry and consumers. The report is available here and further data will be issued in the coming weeks.

The Commission’s above website report is accompanied by the following charts:  illegal gambling graphs final PNGThe UKGC’s report also includes the following “Notes to editors”:

1. Complaints received about illegal online gambling:

  • April 2019, nine complaints about 20 sites
  • May 2019, 10 complaints about 11 sites
  • June 2019, eight complaints about 10 sites
  • July 2019, 10 complaints about 15 sites
  • August 2019, 13 complaints relating to 17 sites
  • September 2019, nine complaints about nine sites
  • October 2019, 14 complaints about 16 sites
  • November 2019, eight complaints about 22 sites
  • December 2019, 17 complaints about 15 sites
  • January 2020, 31 complaints about 35 sites
  • February 2020, 11 complaints about nine sites
  • March 2020, 12 complaints about nine sites
  • April 2020, 11 complaints about 11 sites

Note that some of the websites complained about were referral sites linking to operators without a Gambling Commission licence and may have already been complained about individually within the same period.

2. The January 2020 peak was associated with Curacao-based enterprises attempting to entice GB consumers who were self-excluded. This is an issue we have been addressing using our powers. 

3. More information about how we regulate the gambling industry.  

4. Useful statistics on the gambling industry