Unlicensed Gambling Stats

Get the numbers on unlicensed betting and gambling in the UK and globally.

To protect consumers from the harms associated with unregulated operators, online casinos in the UK require a valid license from the Gambling Commission. However, unlicensed gambling is still an issue, within the UK and worldwide. We decided to understand more about the unlicensed gambling sector, putting data at the forefront of our investigation.

To build a clear picture of statistics and trends in the UK, our team researched dozens of different sources and compiled a broad array of data insights. We have presented the results below and will update regularly as fresh data sources become available. Sources are indicated with each data point and full references included at the end of the page.


1. An estimated 200,000 people used illegal gambling sites in the past 12 months. 

Source: British Gaming Council (BGC) study into unregulated operators – February 2020


2. There were 27 million visits from UK IP addresses to black-market gambling sites. 

Source: BGC study into unregulated operators – February 2020


3. 4 in 10 search results for key gambling terms on major search engines are unlicensed black-market operators.

Source: BGC study into unregulated operators – February 2020


4. The size of the active black-market in the UK is today worth around £1.4 billion in stakes.

Source: BGC study into unregulated operators – February 2020


5. It is estimated that 80% of global sports bets are illegal.

Source: European Commission / IRIS, Preventing Criminal Risks Linked to the Sports Betting Market – June 2017


6. As a global industry, the illegal gambling black-market is thought to earn $1.7 trillion a year.

Source: European Commission / IRIS, Preventing Criminal Risks Linked to the Sports Betting Market – June 2017


7. In the Asia-Pacific region, the illegal betting market is growing twice as fast as legal betting.

Source: Anti-illegal Betting Taskforce, Asian Racing Federation, Illegal Betting in an Asian Context – September 2018


8. Experts believe that at least $140 billion (10%) of the proceeds from global organised crime are laundered through illegal gambling each year.

Source: Anti-illegal Betting Taskforce, Asian Racing Federation, Illegal Betting in an Asian Context – September 2018

The people behind this page

Compare.bet's online gambling content experts helped write, edit and check this page:

Sam is a Digital PR Executive for Compare.bet and joined us in 2020. He has an MSC in International Marketing and also works on our interview series for Compare.bet news, speaking to Robert Huth, Glen Johnson and Joleon Lescott. Sam enjoys following Leicester City, the LSU Tigers and the NFL in his spare time.