William Hills CEO warns UK Over-Regulation Could Drive Custom On To Black Market

Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO at William Hill Group spoke in an interview with SBC News warning over-regulation by the UK government could drive customers onto illegal, unregulated sites.The UK government is currently reviewing the Gambling Act 2005, which Bengtsson believes is good for the UK industry, but not to under-estimate the pull of the black market.

Sensible Review

Over-regulation could push players towards unlicensed sites but a sensible review of the current legislation is a good thing. Operators must carry out more affordability checks but not to the degree it becomes intrusive to customers in the UK. Finding the right balance between ensuring a player’s safety and security without over-stepping the mark and forcing them on to unregulated platforms.A report disclosed last week by the PwC found online gambling in the UK has seen an uptick in players using black market sites from 210,000 to 460,000 and monies wagered rose from £1.4bn to £2.8bn in the past two years.

Drive Towards Unlicenced Sites

Bengtsson pointed out clear markers of a drive towards unlicenced platforms in the UK on a daily basis. Player numbers have increased due to tighter regulations in the UK market over the past few years. FOB’s max bets drastically reduced in April 2019 from £100 to £2, also the ban on credit card usage, and now bans on spin speeds, autoplay, and reverse withdrawals could all be contributing factors in the migration to unlicenced platforms.The UK has one of the most successful gambling programs throughout Europe and access to the black market has so far been limited. Although the limitations on black market operations have been successful in the short term, they could be a threat to the UK betting market. Bengtsson also praised the UK regulators for the ongoing review on gambling but is well aware they need to be careful while reviewing current legislation and not end up where other regulators have ended up.The safety and protection of UK players have always been the priority of legislators, but over-regulation could have a detrimental effect on the UK. Anti-gambling influencers, the Treasury, and legislators would not want a negative impact as the only winners would then be the black market platforms.   

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