Gamblers Consumer Forum: Scale of China’s black market illustrates challenges in the UK

Lobby group says Gambling Commission faces tough battle ahead as it draws comparison with enormity of illegal market in China  

The Gamblers Consumer Forum (GCF) has claimed the size of the Chinese black market demonstrates the difficulties posed to the Gambling Commission (GC) in its battle against unlicensed operators.

In a series of responses to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DMCS) Select Committee’s report on gambling regulation, which was released in December, the lobby group slammed several points raised by MPs.

On the implementation of the white paper into the Gambling Act 2005 review, the GCF highlighted that while the Select Committee pointed to the GC being awarded further powers to tackle the black market, the reality would be a difficult task.

The GCF said: “The black market is an issue we at the GC have highlighted constantly. Our interaction with gamblers demonstrates a significant upswing in those being forced through affordability or in some cases lured into the black market and was further confirmed by our independent YouGov polling. 

“While the report notes extra powers being given to the GC to tackle the black market, we would point to the fact that despite gambling is banned in China, an estimated over $60bn flows out of country in black-market gambling.  

“If the Chinese State cannot control the black market, then that perhaps illustrates the scale of the challenge for the GC.”

Elsewhere, the GCF continued to take umbrage over the proposed controversial affordability checks as the report laid out that MPs said the government must ensure the measures as “minimally intrusive”.

The GCF highlighted this phrase, along with a “level of friction that is acceptable” as sticking points from the report.

The forum said: “We have concerns over the term ‘minimally intrusive’ and ‘level of friction that is acceptable’ (a step change from the ‘checks will be totally frictionless’ promise.). We also have significant concerns about the protection of data, given that many of those who have self-excluded are being targeted by the black market.

“In all likelihood, their details have leaked from bookmakers. Reference is again made to a pilots and customers’ willingness to be subject; many gamblers are already being subjected to financial checks and many operators are suggesting non-compliance with checks is in the region of 80%.

“Many of our supporters have been subjected to checks and refuse to send in data which, as demonstrated with the self-excluded, is open to abuse. The protection of data is even more of a concern to us following a meeting with a DCMS official who confirmed the checks would be undertaken by third parties.”

The GCF also pointed to the Select Committee’s comments on advertising, in which MPs said it “seems clear that advertising encourages participation in gambling and that this effect is more pronounced for children and those vulnerable to gambling harm”.

In its retort, the GCF said: “The same could be said of any number of addictive products from alcohol to food to even sex. The entire basis for this argument is that humans are at the complete mercy of what is advertised to us, and that the only thing required to cause addiction is exposure. If this was the case, why aren’t we all addicted?”

The GCF confirmed it would be sending its responses to Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew as well as the DCMS Select Committee and other MPs.

The body said its responses would also feed into its briefing it will hand to MPs ahead of the parliamentary debate on affordability checks, which will take place on 26 February.

The House of Commons’ Petitions Committee confirmed the date of the debate after Jockey Club CEO Nevin Truesdale’s petition to scrap the measures surpassed the 100,000-signature threshold in November.

 

​EGR Intel

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