New legislation will soon be introduced to the United Kingdom by the Online Harms Bill, which is aimed towards providing more power to the Office of Communications (OfCom). The OfCom is the UK’s communications regulator that focuses on regulating broadcasting, telecommunications, and postal industries.
The main objective of introducing the bill is to regulate and protect internet activities, such as gaming and social media usage.
The OfCom will be given the power to hold online organizations responsible for protecting people from harmful content and ensure that such content is immediately removed.
In the wake of the bill proposal, the Betting and Gaming Council is encouraging the UK government to include a part within the legislation that regulates or restrains the black market gambling activities by unregulated firms.
According to reports, more than ¼ of gambling operators in the UK market are unlicensed and potentially endanger vulnerable individuals, including children.
It is estimated that the gambling black market is worth roughly one and a half billion pounds. This is because unlicensed and unregulated operators are able to access the British audience through search engines and social media. Age verification measures via those channels are poor and lack enough checking.
Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council Chief Executive, commented on the figures saying, “Search platforms are promoting black-market gambling operators for profit, putting the British customers, including children, at risk. None of the UK’s strict licensed safeguards are in place on these illegal sites.”
Dugher compared legal and illegal gambling operators saying, “Regulated bookies and online operators have a strict zero-tolerance approach to underage gambling, yet unlicensed operators are free to prey on vulnerable consumers. We welcome the Government’s Online Harms Bill. But it also provides the Government with a chance to clamp down on the black market and help protect punters who want a flutter in a safe environment.”
According to reports, around 200,000 Brits have used black market gambling operators in the past year and over 20 million IP hits have visited unlicensed online gambling providers.