The number of blocklisted online gambling domains across 17 reporting European countries, as monitored by VIXIO GamblingCompliance, increased by 17 percent to more than 90,000 during the first half of 2020 despite disruption to normal working patterns.
The total number of visible blocklisted URLs across Europe equalled 93,623 as of June 30, 2020, constituting a year-on-year rise of just over 42 percent. Online gambling blocklists have expanded across European countries as governments attempted to crack down on offshore activities, focusing on stopping non-licensed operators targeting customers in their jurisdiction.
Blocklists dictate the unlicensed domain names which are required to be blocked by internet service providers (ISPs) and, in some cases payment processors, in a given jurisdiction.
The majority of the year-to-date growth came from Turkey, with just under 16,000 new domains being added to the blocklist in the first half of 2020 compared to 17,400 in the same period last year.
Excluding Turkey, the number of reported blocklisted domain names in Europe increased by 38 percent or 11,892 year-on-year, up slightly on equivalent growth of 33 percent or 9,416 in the year to June 2019.
Cyprus continued its upward website blocking trajectory by adding 4,507 domains in the year to June 2020, pushing the total number of blocked URLs to 13,239, more than double the total number of domains two years prior.
Meanwhile, Poland’s Ministry of Finance blocklist additions have decreased by 10 percent year-on-year, banning 4,105 websites in the year to June 2020 compared to 4,538 in the prior year.
Play Legally, Poland’s gambling trade association, has begun lobbying for a new dedicated Polish gambling regulator due to severe time lags between submitting an unlicensed domain and it being added to the blocklist.
Coronavirus’ impact on the European gambling industry in the early months of 2020 cannot be understated, as the initial cancellation of sporting events and closure of physical premises forced operators to focus on untapped online potential.
Momentum in European blocklist enforcement has generally continued unabated, with half a dozen jurisdictions tracked by VIXIO GamblingCompliance significantly increasing domain blocking activity in the six months to June 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year.
Sweden’s blocklist was initially released in December 2019, coinciding with the Swedish Gambling Authority’s (SGA) new strategy against illegal gambling activities. A licensed list followed in April 2020, with both lists since having expanded to hundreds of domains as of June 2020.
Switzerland’s first, dual online gambling blocklists in September 2019 contained over 100 domains, a total which has iteratively grown to reach 338 as of June 30, 2020, being predominately issued by the Swiss Lottery and Betting Board (Comlot) rather than the Federal Gaming Commission (ESBK).
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s telecoms commissions blocked 30 web addresses in February 2020, including operators such as Pinnacle, GVC’s PartyCasino and RedKings Casino.
Further east, China’s top enforcement official issued a warning against online gambling operators in March 2020, as a future blocklist of foreign gambling organisations seems imminent to overcome the “chaos” of cross-border activity.
Thereby, blocklists are becoming an increasingly important tool for regulators and institutions to combat unlicensed online operations. Each jurisdiction has a different methodology when publishing such blocklists, with some governments updating there blocklist each week, others monthly, and some almost daily.
At VIXIO GamblingCompliance, we can help you stay ahead of the curve with our blocklist monitoring tracker, providing daily alerts for any changes to blocklists from 17 jurisdictions. The tracker highlights all associated domain names and relevant gambling companies when possible, helping you stay informed.