UK's Gambling Industry in Numbers 1999 - 2015
January 31, 2017 3:01 AM
by David Cash
Britain's Gambling Market in Numbers
We all know that Brits love a gamble and that the UK is one of the most important markets for any gambling operator. From the National Lottery to online real-money games, most of the adult population is no stranger to placing a bet, so we thought that it would be interesting to see what the available statistics for the gambling industry in the country can say about the state of the market. My initial assumptions were that there would be evidence of a major impact on the industry by the global economic crisis and then by the transition from point-of-supply to point-of-consumption type of taxation. Also, I was pretty sure that the stats would show huge drop in offline gambling and a huge jump in online gambling. Was I right? The answers might surprise you.
Starting December 2014, all online gambling operators that are offering their services to British players have to be licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), as opposed to before, when any license issued in an EU country sufficed, usually that being one issued in Gibraltar or Malta. Though it created some controversy and had big opposition by the industry, according to which the closing of the market does not comply with the European law, this switch to point-of-consumption taxation is not without precedent in the EU. Before that, many other countries, such as Italy, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria, to mention but a few, closed their online markets to gambling operators licensed by another state, but the difference is that in the UK it was done right.
At the time when the new regulation came into force, I was working for several sites which provide detailed casino reviews. I was expecting quite a bit of trouble and extra work because of closed operators and blocked accounts, but it all went quite smoothly. There were no sites taken down and on the surface it looked like nothing had happened. Obviously, the transition was properly thought of and executed, with the Gambling Commission timely informing all interested parties of the upcoming changes in the law and issuing licenses way before the regulation came into force. Of course, there were some operators, such as Betsson and Europa Casino for example, that chose to leave the market as the taxation in the UK is not at all as favorable as the one in Gibraltar and Malta, but overall there were no major shake-ups due to the new law. Unfortunately, this event is not reflected by the available statistics, due to the lack of officially released studies after the transition, though according to the preliminary data there are no major changes. Still, the numbers show huge growth in online gambling activities and online operator turnover in the past few years.
Online Gambling in the United Kingdom – A Glimpse at the Statistics
As you can see from the graphic, online gambling in the UK is on the rise, especially when it comes to betting. There's a huge jump in the turnover for most betting markets, with the sole exception of horse betting. A research of all UK-licensed operators in the sector showed that most of the players choose big brands which also own land-based shops, such as William Hill and Ladbrokes. Obviously, the popularity of these operators is associated with trustworthiness (in this specific case rightfully so), but that doesn't guarantee the best odds and conditions for the different betting markets and events. Experienced players know better than to have only one account and often compare different operators' odds for the specific event they want to bet on and pick the most advantageous offer.
When it comes to online casinos, the situation is a little bit different. As most online casino operators are not available offline, players often choose where to play based on a referral, after reading casino reviews or other gamblers' comments in forums. Also, the criteria for picking an online casino are quite many. Some important ones that should go in your checklist are: available games, bonuses, software platforms, security profile, VIP schemes, mobile compatibility, live-dealer section. If you are interested in finding out which are the top operators in this sector, I recommend that you check out this detailed guide to the best online casinos that accept British players, which is one of my favorite examples for a ranking article based on research and hard facts and not only on subjective opinions.
As far as online bingo goes, the statistics are quite clear. The difference between the annual turnover in 2009 and 2014 is so huge, it's even a little bit hard to believe how fast and how much this sector has developed in 5 short years. Online bingo is truly exploding and the the reasons for that are numerous – the easier access to online bingo rooms, the explosion of mobile gambling, the inconvenience of going to a land-based bingo room and so on.
Considering that in the past years online gambling has been gaining more and more popularity, I expected to see a huge drop in the numbers of land-based operators, but I was once again quite surprised by the stats. Though there is, in fact, a slight drop in most land-based betting activities and bingo, overall there are no major changes on the offline market, at least not as big as I was expecting. Check out some of the statistics below:
UK's Land-Based Gambing Market in Numbers
An obvious conclusion that we can make based on the stats presented above is that while online gambling is getting bigger and bigger, this is definitely not the end of offline gambling. We can safely say that land-based betting shops, casinos and bingo rooms are not going away any time soon, as obviously they have many loyal customers that prefer to place a bet in person.
Impact of the Economic Recession
One of the first documents I came across when I started doing my research for this article was a report by the UKGC which followed the gambling habits of the nation in the period between 1999 and 2010. Surprisingly enough, this report showed an increase in the participation in almost all activities which completely blew my theory for a huge drop in the nation's involvement in gambling due to the economic crisis and the following recession. As it is an official study presented by a state authority, you can imagine how this report is pretty boring and uninspiring to read, so I've decided to present the most important stats you can find in there in this handy infographic:
Infographic – Britain's Gambling Market – Unaffected by the Global Economic Crisis
Gambling was, is and will continue to be huge in Britain. Even major disturbances such as the global economic crisis and the switching to a closed market didn't manage to seriously harm the industry. A noticeable trend is the steady growth of the remote gambling sector, especially when it comes to mobile gambling. Major brands, such as William Hill and Ladbrokes in the betting sector and 888 when it comes to casino games, are still dominating the market, as the regulation and the fees are more favorable for the bigger operators. All in all, we can say that the gambling industry in the UK is a well-working machine that provides high level of safety and fairness to the players thanks to the strict regulation, as well as guarantees great conditions and millions of potential clients to both land-based and online gambling operators.
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