UK online gambling has more than doubled in past five years

Online gambling has more than doubled in the last five years, an independent research review published by the Department of Culture Media Sport reveals. The research was commissioned ahead of the first ever online gambling summit, hosted by Great Britain at Royal Ascot.

The summit was held to secure international standards for the regulation of online, interactive TV and mobile phone gambling. The research shows that there are nearly one million regular online gamblers in Britain alone; they make up nearly one-third of Europe’s 3.3 million regular online gamblers. Besides, Europe’s regular gamblers stake approximately USD 6.6 billion a year – an average of USD 1900 each.

Now there are 2,300 sites across the world. A large number of these are based in a few key nations, with Antigua (537) top of the pile and Costa Rica in second with 474.

The UK currently has 70 online betting sites, but no gaming (poker, blackjack, roulette etc) sites. Women are becoming increasingly important in the remote gambling market. During the World Cup about 30% of those visiting key UK based betting websites were women.

The research was conducted prior to the US decision to ban the processing of payments for online gambling websites. It makes three recommendations: Greater international co operation including harmonised regulations to curb problem and youth gambling; Co operation with the gambling industry and more research into the extent of participation in remote gambling.

John Carr, new technology adviser for leading children’s charity NCH said: „However good the new regime will be in the UK for online gambling, it might not be as effective if overseas websites simply ignore the high standards we have set. It is therefore very important that the Government is trying to persuade other countries to establish a similar regulatory framework.“

The Gambling Commission will regulate online gambling in Great Britain. They published proposed licence conditions and codes of practice for consultation in March 2006.