UK gambling survey shows slight revenue dip

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Rise in gambling self exclusions in the UK 

Gambling revenue in the UK took a modest dip in the recent UK Gambling Commission survey, which doesn’t take into account the impact of COVID-19, which is outside the survey window.

Calvin Ayre reports online growth failed to offset a double-digit decline in retail operations in the UK.

Last Thursday, the UKGC released its latest regulated market statistics for the period spanning October 2018 to September 2019, during which overall revenue totalled 14.26 billion pounds (A$26.4 billion), a 0.5 per cent decline from the most recent report spanning April 2018 to March 2019.

Online casino revenue claimed the largest share of the overall pie with 3.19 billion pounds (A$5.9 billion), up nearly 3.9 per cent.

National Lottery revenue is up 3.4 per cent to 3.184 billion pounds (A$5.9 billion).

Online betting up, football betting down

Online betting rose 4.3 per cent to 2.12 billion pounds (A$3.9 billion) and online bingo jumped 12.5 per cent to 198 million pounds (A$366 million).

Combined online gambling revenue, excluding online National Lottery sales, hit 5.51 billion pounds (A$10.2 billion), up from the 5.3 billion (A$9.8 billion) pounds in the 12 months ending March 2019.

This reverses the rare negative growth of 0.6 per cent that was recorded in the previous survey.

The biggest takeaway from the latest report is the land-based betting revenue falling 13.8 per cent to 2.81 billion pounds (A$5.2 billion).

The total number of betting shops fell 12.1 per cent to 7315, the lowest since 2009.

This is well below the 2014 peak of 9111 shops.

The shop reduction was a response to the government-ordered reduction in the maximum stake on the shops’ fixed odds betting terminals on April 1 last year.

The cull also reduced betting shop staff by nearly 4000, bringing the total number of retail betting employees to 46,123, down from nearly 56,000 in 2012.

Betting shop machine gaming revenue fell nearly 20 per cent to 1.46 billion pounds (A$2.7 billion), thanks to FOBT revenue sliding 46.4 per cent to 1.16 billion pounds (A$2.1 billion).

The number of FOBTs in operation was down 28.5 per cent to 23,441.

The newly neutered machines appear to have lowered the shops’ over-the-counter betting turnover, which fell 5.3 per cent to just under 8 billion pounds (A$14.8 billion).

On course racing bookies reported a modest turnover increases, while over the counter revenue slipped 6 per cent to 1.28 billion pounds (A$2.4 billion).

Football was the anchor that dragged down the OTC stats, falling 28 per cent from the previous period.

Turnover on greyhounds, horses and numbers were all up modest amounts.

Over the counter football revenue slipped 22.4 per cent to 318.4 million pounds (A$589 million), while horses gained 2.4 per cent to 526.2 million pounds (A$974 million) and dogs rose 5.4 per cent to 155.5 million pounds (A$288 million).

Online football betting turnover was also down 2.2 per cent, while revenue was flat.

Overall, online sports and racing betting turnover was up just under one per cent and betting revenue climbed 4.3 per cent.

The average balance of funds held in customers’ online accounts hit an all-time high of just over 900 pounds (A$1666), up from 828 pounds (A$1532) in the previous survey and from less than 500 pounds (A$925) in 2015.

If you include the internationally licensed operators who serve UK customers without UKGC permission, total online revenue hit 5.78 billion pounds (A$10.7 billion), up four per cent from the previous survey.

That puts the internationally licensed share at around 274.5 million pounds (A$508 million), down from 308.3 million pounds ($A570 million) in the previous survey.

The UKGC publishes its finding in May and November and there’s a significant lag between the data and the current date.

Accordingly, the true impact of COVID-19 on the overall market won’t be known until at least a year.

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