Gambling has always been a common adult pastime in the United Kingdom, much like watching sporting events, going to the movies or visiting the bowling alley. Spinning the reels at the arcade, betting on the ponies and visiting the local bingo hall with friends are equally customary forms of entertainment. According to recently released data, gambling – especially internet gambling – seems to have become even more popular lately.
The latest information from the UK Gambling Commission, released June 30, confirmed that Brits spent £12.6 billion on gambling in 2015 alone. Not only is that a record setting amount of gross gaming yield (GGY) for the nation, it turns out that a rather substantial margin of that was spent gambling online. Nearly a third of it, in fact.
Of the total £12.6bn wagered in the UK last year, £3.6bn was spent at internet gambling sites like Betfair, Ladbrokes and LeoVegas. Sites like these offer the same wide-ranging gambit of betting opportunities found in retail shops and casinos; from slot machines, blackjack and roulette, to bingo, sportsbook and racebook wagering.
Breaking it down further, the UKGC reported that £3.3 billion was spent by players of the National Lottery. £3.2 billion was spent at retail betting shops, with £1.7 billion of that wagered on fixed-odds betting terminals. Traditional casino gambling came in with the lowest figures, contributing just £1 billion to the all-time high in annual UK gambling expenditures.
Ebb & Flow: Live vs Online
Oddly enough, the increase in the rate of UK wagers at internet gambling sites comes at a time when the availability of land-based wagering is slowly waning. From March 2015 to March 2016, the number of retail betting shops in the region has dropped 1.9%, while the number of arcades fell more dramatically by 11.1%. B2 machines at betting shops experienced a slight decline of 0.5%.
It’s also interesting to note that, while the number of bingo halls fell 10.1% in the same time period to just 599, from October 2014 to September 2015, GGY from bingo games actually rose 4.9%. This proves that the UK’s bingo fans are willing to travel a little further, if necessary, to get their bingo on.
As for the steady growth of internet wagering, that can be easily attributed to strong marketing campaigns, combined with the mass shift towards mobile and tablet technology.
UKGC Responds to Gambling Data
UKGC Programme Director James Green responded to the results of the regulator’s data analysis, and was particularly proud of the online gambling statistics provided. “For the first time the figures include almost a full year’s worth of data relating to online gambling operators,” he said. “The market share of the online betting, bingo and casino sector is 29% and we’ll be interested to see how this varies over time.”
As for land-based gambling in the UK, Green said “we’re seeing changes” in offline wagering. “For instance, there’s been a reduction in the number of betting shops, arcades and bingo halls in the last two years,” he said.
“Market trends and consumer participation research are key to shaping the Commission’s regulatory policy to keep gambling in Britain safe for consumers, fair, and crime-free,” concluded Green.