The Government held its internet gambling summit yesterday and found the online industry has more than doubled in the last five years.

The summit sought to secure international standards for the regulation of online, interactive TV and mobile phone gambling in contrast to the blanket US ban imposed on online gambling financial transactions last month.

The independent research, commissioned ahead of the widely anticipated, first ever online gambling summit hosted by the UK government yesterday, found the industry is flourishing despite the US actions, with 2,300 sites across the world. A large number of these are based in a few key nations, headed by Antigua with 537, followed by Costa Rica with 474. The UK currently has 70 online betting sites, but no gaming sites for poker, blackjack, roulette etc.

The research reveals there are nearly one million regular online gamblers in Britain alone, who make up nearly one-third of Europe’s 3.3 million regular online gamblers. This amounts to an average annual spend of £1,000 or approximately £3.5 billion pounds a year.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell said: “This research shows that online gambling is on the rise and there is a need to do something about this at a global level, as well as in the UK. I want to secure international support for agreed standards of regulation,” she said.

Delegates from 32 nations gathered to discuss age and identification verification systems, including the role of government in smoothing access to high-quality data for gambling operators to identify customers, according to the documents drafted by UK officials.

The Gambling Commission will regulate online gambling in this country. It published proposed licence conditions and codes of practice for consultation in March 2006 and will release its final version later this month.