DCMS: Fight against the UK black market is like “whack-a-mole”

Senior civil servant Ben Dean says ability for illegal firms to relaunch previously closed sites keeps authorities on their toes in ongoing battle
The post DCMS: Fight against the UK black market is like “whack-a-mole” first appeared on EGR Intel.  

A senior civil servant in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has likened the fight against the black market to a game of “whack-a-mole”.

Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum this week, DCMS director for sport and gambling Ben Dean explained the difficulties in battling illegal firms.

He noted that unlicensed companies’ ability to reopen sites in quick fashion, after having enforcement action applied previously, meant the authorities were in a perpetual chase to shut down offending platforms.

Dean said the DCMS had worked “really closely” with the Gambling Commission in the battle against the unregulated sector but highlighted the difficulties the fighting parties face in the situation.

He said: “I think that the challenge you have with the black market is always how quickly a lot of these organisations can pop their site up elsewhere.

“So, there are times [it] becomes a bit of a whack-a-mole. But that’s where I think both working with internet service providers [and] the payment agencies is key, because if we can clearly ensure that people can’t use their credit cards or their debit cards, they won’t be able to gamble on these illegal sites.

“I think we all recognise the black market isn’t going to go away totally. It is definitely something that we will continue to closely monitor,” he added.

Dean’s comments came prior to Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes’ speech during the same forum in which he revealed the extent of the regulator’s efforts in the past 12 months.

The Gambling Commission issued 452 cease-and-desist and disruption notices in 2023 as the CEO confirmed the body was also working with the National Crime Agency, Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and HMRC in its fight to combat illegal firms.

Aside from the black market, Dean also provided an update into the cross-sport gambling sponsorship code of conduct that was laid out in the white paper into the Gambling Act 2005 review.

The code of conduct, which will be decided upon by each separate sport in the UK, was preceded by Premier League clubs agreeing to a ban on front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with gambling firms from the start of the 2026-27 season.

Dean said sports were “making good progress” and that the announcement would be “drip fed” by each code rather than a combined announcement.

He added: “They are implementing these as quickly as they want, which is absolutely what we want. But broadly, we’re really grateful for the way industry and sports have worked together.

“I absolutely think this is a good example of where voluntary action can get stuff done pretty quickly, which I recognise won’t go as far as some people want.”

The post DCMS: Fight against the UK black market is like “whack-a-mole” first appeared on EGR Intel.


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