In the United Kingdom, gambling is a well-liked pastime among people of different age groups and social classes. The main piece of legislation that regulates the gambling industry in the UK is the Gambling Act of 2005. It came fully into force in September 2007 to establish a regulatory framework for the provision of various forms of gambling, including arcades, betting, bingo, casinos, gaming machines, society lotteries, and remote gambling.
The Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the regulatory body for commercial gambling in the UK. It is responsible for issuing/revoking licenses, imposing financial penalties, protecting players’ best interests, and ensuring a safe and fair gambling environment. Not long ago, the Commission has introduced tough player protection measures to cope with the increased problem gambling rates.
Largest Sectors by Gross Gambling Yield
The liberal attitude towards gambling in the UK fuelled the exceptional growth of the industry. According to an annual report published on the official site of the Gambling Commission, approximately 22.1 million adults participated in different forms of gambling in 2020. Out of them, 12.1 million gambled online. The number of online players has significantly grown since 2019. That can be attributed to the measures in the fight against Covid-19.
According to bestcasinosites, online gambling and sports betting is the fastest-growing segment in the UK. In 2020, it was reported that remote gambling and betting generated £6.9 billion in GGY, which represents over 40% of the entire market. The lion’s share of the GGY came from online casino games that brought £4 billion in GGY. Slots were the most popular games (accounting for 69% of the GGY), followed by roulette (with 14%), and blackjack (with 6%).
The GGY generated from online sports betting amounted to £2.6 billion. Football and horse racing accrued a GGY of £1.2 billion and £856.1 million, respectively. Remote bingo brought a GGY of £189.1 million in 2020.
The second-largest combined sector is the National Lottery, with ticket sales totaling £8.4 billion. As much as £4.9 was returned as prizes, while £1.7 billion was used to fund good causes.
According to a report by the UKGC, the GGY of the online gambling sector has increased by 8.1% compared to April 2018 – March 2019. The British gambling industry accrued a total of £14.2 billion in GGY, which represents a decline of 0.6% compared to April 2018 – March 2019.
Gambling Participation by Age
As of September 2021, the highest gambling participation rate was found to be among people between the ages of 45 and 54. The second-highest gambling participation rate was among people between the ages of 35 to 44. Statistics show that gambling was a popular activity also among people in the 55-64 age group. Gambling participation was lowest among individuals between 16 and 24 years old.
Interestingly, most online gamblers are male. In 2018, it was reported that 23% of all men in the United Kingdom engaged in online gambling activities, while only 15% of the women played online. The main reasons that motivate Brits to gamble are the social and competitive aspect of gambling, the financial reward, and entertainment.
On average, UK players bet £2.57 weekly, showing that gambling is more of a pastime than a habit. However, the UK Gambling Commission reported that over 200,000 people in the UK are pathological gamblers.
The Exponential Growth of the UK Online Gambling Market
The harsh restrictions and the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led to the shift towards online gambling. One of the main factors that stimulated the increase of gambling participation was boredom. But even after the Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed, many people continued using online gambling services.
Most people in the UK have smartphones and enjoy high-speed Internet access. Hence, Brits can play various casino games or place a bet on their favourite team even on the go. The UK Gambling Commission reported that half of the people who participated in online gambling activities in 2020 used their smartphones.
Web-based casinos and sportsbooks offer generous promotions for newcomers and existing players. In addition, online casino fans do not have to travel to a land-based casino and make their way through the crowd.