Alarming Rise In Unlicensed U.S. Casino Searches’s research has found a “alarming rise” in searches of unlicensed online casino sites across the U.S., with a significant surge reported over the past 12 months.

Weekly searches for unlicensed, offshore online casino brands have risen by 42 per cent in the last 12 months, with levels more than three times higher for the largest black market platform than for ‘online casino,’ it has been reported.

Using data from Google Trends between the May 2019 timeframe and May 2020, BonusFinder found that searches for the word ‘online casino’ soared 149 per cent in the last year and 37 per cent in the first five months of 2020.

BonusFinder managing director Fintan Costello explained: “Despite many US states and state regulators doing a great job in licensing many elements of the industry, it is clear from our research that the demand for online casino is accelerating and that players are increasingly turning to unregulated sites to play.

“The message is clear. The black market is targeting US online casino players more than ever, and players are falling prey to unlicensed activities with little or no safety measures in place. This is dangerous at the best of times, but the US, like many countries, is facing unprecedented economic challenges and many individuals have become more vulnerable to black market targeting.

“Player safety is paramount, and regulators need to take urgent action to stem this alarming trend. The regulated online casino industry has the tools, technology and expertise to provide US players with proven products they can enjoy responsibly, safe in the knowledge that player protection is the number one priority.” found a total of 38 unlicensed sites operating and targeting US players, with one of the largest black-market brands reporting search volumes at regular intervals more than three times greater than traditional online casino searches around the country.

This follows the community recording a 100% spike in day-to-day player searches for ‘online casino’ from February to the end of March this year following rescheduling of land-based slot machines and sporting events.

Since the abolition of PASPA in August 2018, 17 US states have legalised sports betting with just five starting igaming, including Delaware, Michigan, Nevada , New Jersey and Pennsylvania.