How can we Block Unlicensed Online Gambling Businesses?

Some countries have extremely strict approaches, banning gambling outright. Others have a more regulated approach, such as Tanzania. Wherever you live and whatever the gambling laws are, unscrupulous foreign-owned online casinos will target potential players irrespective of the laws of the land.

These unlicensed operators employ a variety of methods to target new players, including using ill-gotten email and text numbers. They’ll also spend a great deal of time understanding the wants and needs of their target audience, whether they prefer betting on horses or cards, for instance.

Additionally they will also employ “black hat” marketing methods. These are unethical, although not always illegal, ways to get your message in front of your audience quickly. The technique gets its name from the days of western films when a “good guy” wore a white hat and a “baddie” a black one.

Black Hat SEO techniques are employed to get your message or business ranking highly online, but which violates the terms of use of the search engine. Techniques that could get your business banned by Google and Bing, include content automation, keyword stuffing, cloaking and hidden texts or links. A good litmus test to distinguish the difference between a white hat and a black hat technique is to ask yourself if you are doing what you’re doing to add value to the end-user or just doing it for the search engine to see.

All of this means that someone in an office in Europe, Asia or the USA could be tempting players in Africa to sign-up to their casino.

Why does that matter?

There are two main reasons.

If you govern a country and feel that the best way to keep your citizens safe is to ban gambling altogether then these operators are presenting a way for them to break those rules. On the other hand, if you’re a country that has a more regulated approach to gambling, you won’t want people playing in unlicensed casinos that don’t benefit the state, after all, betting is big business.

Annual revenue for gambling in South Africa generates more than $ 2 billion a year for the state, with licensed operators paying taxes and purchasing a licence from the government to be able to attract players. has estimated it would take one person no more than one month to identify all the gambling sites ranking in any country. But what then?

Governments can block websites and social media however they want to. It’s not uncommon. Earlier this year Russia blocked Facebook and Twitter in response to what it called “discrimination against Russian media”.

Turkey has a long history of blocking websites while China and North Korea top the list of the internet’s most censored countries.

How do they do this?

Simply by asking the Internet Service Provider in that country to block them from their Domain Name System. Countries may also use Geo-Blocking – where your ability to access websites is restricted based on your IP address, which identifies your location. Governments can also block and filter keywords and even ask search engines to remove content.

However, nothing’s that simple. These days VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are readily available, allowing people to outsmart geo-blocking techniques.

Plus, given the sheer scale of new online casinos emerging and the ability to flick and switch domain names, the battle of blocking is a daily fight.

Some countries take a different tact when it comes to tackling unlicensed online casinos.

In the UK, the regulatory body, the UK Gambling Commission, targets payment methods as one of many tactics. And they’re not alone. A total of 16 EU member states have measures in place that require payment processors to block payments to unlicensed casinos.

Governments may want to ban websites for all sorts of reasons. But if you’re a player, then you really should stay away from any unlicensed casinos. There’s no guarantee they won’t just run off with your cash in the middle of the night. It’s far better to play at a licensed casino, where operating and betting accounts are kept separately, where there are ways to keep players safe such as deposit limits and where banking methods are more mainstream.

If you’re a player feeling overwhelmed and you live in the UK, you can block yourself from being able to access casinos that are part of GAMSTOP. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to join an unlicensed one. There is a significant search volume for “sites not on GAMSTOP” as this article is being written.

So, why aren’t they blocked?

The UK Gambling Commission takes a very strategic approach to unlicensed casinos.

It says:

“We assess intelligence gathered from multiple sources and work closely with partner agencies to prevent access to illegal websites by consumers in Great Britain. If an intelligence-led initial approach is unsuccessful, cases are referred to the enforcement team for investigation and further disruption options. This approach ensures that our focus is on those websites presenting the greatest consumer threat. Licensees have highlighted the risks posed by illegal operators who undermine consumer protection efforts and provide an unfair source of competition.”

But wouldn’t blocking be a quicker win?

No amount of Googling will give you a confirmed response as to why the UK Gambling Commission doesn’t simply block unlicensed casinos.

According to Google, the last time this subject was debated was back in 2014 when the IPS providers in the UK were of the view that this is a matter for consumers to either filter or block such sites themselves or for the state to provide a legal framework for them to do so.


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