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The Betting and Gaming Council, which monitors standards in the UK online gambling sector, warns about illegal, online black market sites as it reveals British punters visited unregulated sites 27 million times in a year.

A report by PWC confirms 200,000 customers used an unlicensed gambling operator from 2018 to 2019, betting around £1.4 billion. Smashing Life will only promote licensed casino, sportsbook, poker and bingo operators.

According to the report, unregulated operators accounted for 2.5% of all visits to betting websites, or around 27 million visits. Further, 9% of all gambling search results were for black market sites.

The findings came as the UK Government continues its Gambling Review, which in itself might push punters towards black market operators, which do not operate under the safety net of regulators such as the UK Gambling Commission or Malta Gaming Authority.

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Checks include identification and age verification checks. Sites should also promote safer gambling tools such as deposit limits, time outs and interventions.

By contrast, black market sites can lure under-18s and carry out few or no checks on customers’ ID and gambling habits.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “As the standards body for the regulated industry, we strongly welcome the Gambling Review, which we think is a great opportunity to drive further change on safer gambling.

“However, these figures demonstrate the danger of unintentionally driving punters into the arms of the illegal, online black market – which offers none of the protections of the regulated sector.

“The regulated betting and gaming industry employs 100,000 men and women and pays £3.2bn a year in tax to the Treasury, so the Government needs to be wary of doing anything that puts that at risk.

“Millions of people in the UK enjoy an occasional flutter, whether that is on sports, at the bingo, on the Lottery or online, and it is vitally important that they are able to do so in a safe environment, rather than the unscrupulous black market.”

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