January 25, 2023 3 min read


Illegal Market Soared during the World Cup, Says BGC Study

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the industry body representing the UK gaming and betting industry, unveiled details from a new probe which found that the number of bettors using illegal online gambling operators during the World Cup soared

The research sought to determine the impact of the illegal gambling market in 2022 and was led by Yield Sec. The new probe uncovered that the number of people using illegal online gambling operators in December skyrocketed. More than 250,000 people used the services of illegal, black market operators in December, marking a significant increase when compared to the 80,000 recorded for the corresponding period in 2021.

Focusing on the bigger picture, the probe uncovered that the number of visitors using illegal or black market operators in 2022 increased by 46%. The research found that this represents approximately 148,000 customers using services by illegal gambling operators every month.

Illegal Operators Target Self-Excluded UK Punters

Without any doubt, the increase in the number of punters using illegal gambling operators is worrying. What’s worse is that the recent research uncovered that the traffic to illegal gambling operators offering services to problem gamblers soared as well. Currently, any licensed gambling operator in the UK must adhere to GamStop, which is a self-exclusion system that blocks the access of gamblers to all licensed operators.

While the sign-up process with a licensed gambling operator in the UK takes approximately 12 minutes, industry experts warned that this is not the case for illegal gambling operators. In fact, experts claim that it takes less than 30 seconds before bettors can register with a black market operator and start betting.

According to Yield Sec’s research, for the two months during the World Cup, more than 64,500 players who are self-excluded or vulnerable looked for black market operators that avoid the self-exclusion scheme GamStop. “Non-GamStop sites have generated 82.68% more visits from 26.88% more unique customers during Nov-Dec 2022 compared to the previous two-month period, spending on average 78% more time on site,” pointed out the latest research.

The Black Market Represents a Growing Threat

In light of the outcome of the probe, Michael Dugher, BGC’s CEO, said that the research confirms that the black market represents a growing threat for vulnerable and self-excluded gamblers. He pointed out that licensed operators in the UK safeguard the well-being of their customers and adhere to the rules. However, Dugher added that during the World Cup, illegal operators were “preying on the vulnerable.”

This research exposes the dire threat the growing unsafe, unregulated black market poses to punters.

Michael Dugher, CEO at the Betting and Gaming Council

BGC’s CEO warned that the black market and unlicensed operators lack any of the protection and safer gambling tools which are otherwise provided by licensed gambling companies. Moreover, he said that illegal operators do not pay taxes or support causes that fight against gambling harm.

According to Dugher, the real threat isn’t the regulated market, but the illegal black market operators that continue to attract new customers. Finally, he urged once again government officials to resist draconian gambling restrictions which may push more gamblers to unregulated online operators.


William Velichkov is a research-driven writer. His strengths lie in ensuring factual accuracy, vetting government documentation and reaching out to regulators and other officials. He is particularly fond of financial reporting, the sports betting industry, B2B partnerships and esports betting developments. William is a strong asset to the GamblingNews team as he adds a bedrock to our reporting.

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