UK Gambling Commission data shows sharp rise in online tennis betting

uk-gambling-commission-tennisThe UK Gambling Commission has taken the industry to task over its failure to compile adequate information on gamblers’ use of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in UK betting shops. The complaint came in the Commission’s submission to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport ahead of its triennial review of the stakes and prizes of gambling machines. In a letter dated June 20, the Commission lamented the “significant knowledge gaps” in industry-generated data on how players utilize the Category B2 machines (FOBTs), which have come under concentrated fire by anti-gambling campaigners over their allegedly addictive qualities.

The Commission described the anti-FOBT crowd’s oft-repeated allegation that players could lose £18k per hour as “astronomically improbable and cannot be credibly cited.” (The precise estimate for the above scenario playing itself out was “11 million trillion to 1”.) It was the determination of the Commission’s Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) that a precautionary reduction in B2 machine stakes from its current maximum of £100 per spin was “unsupported by the available evidence.” However, given the aforementioned knowledge gaps, the DCMS “could quite reasonably act on a precautionary basis.”

The Commission recently published its statistics on the gambling industry for the period of October 2011 to September 2012, which showed remote (online) gambling accounting for just 13% of total gross gambling yield (GGY). However, these figures do not include online gambling companies registered outside the UK in soon to be phased out ‘white list’ jurisdictions like Alderney, Antigua, the Isle of Man or other EU gambling hubs like Gibraltar. Remote gambling accounted for GGY of £795.5m, up from £710.4m in the previous data set between April 2011 and March 2012.

Remote betting turnover rose from £14.1b to £17.1b in the most recent figures, while GGY rose to £621.4 from £563.9m. Exchange betting GGY fell from £46.3m to £40.2m, reflecting Betfair’s August 2011 relocation to Gibraltar. Online casino turnover grew by an even larger chunk, going from £512.3m to £754m, while GGY went from £20.2m to £31.2m. Pool betting turnover rose from £154.1m to £188.1m, with GGY increasing to £100.5m from £77.9m. Bingo turnover rose from £28.2m to £31.7m, while GGY went from £2m to £2.25m.

Football remained the dominant form of online wagering, accounting for £6.67b in turnover and £307.8m in GGY. Tennis was next in line with turnover of £3.5b and GGY of £106.2m, both figures up sharply from the previous period’s £2.1b and £68.9m. Horse wagering turnover was flat at £2b, while GGY rose from £92.2m to £113.6m.

Table games topped the remote casino turnover ranking, with its £354.2m nudging out slots’ £304.9m tally. However, slots accounted for £19.3m of GGY compared to table games’ £8m. Card game turnover rose from £27.8m to £46m, while GGY nearly doubled to £2.1m from £1.1m. There were 4.05m new remote gambling customer registrations in the period, bringing total accounts to 16.1m, while active accounts rose from 4m to 4.4m.

Total GGY for all gambling activity during the study period came to £6.2b, up a mere £300m from the last study. Traditional non-remote betting accounted for 50% of GGY, followed by casinos (15%), bingo (12%), arcades (5%) and lotteries (5%). Despite the hysteria over bookmakers congregating their shops in certain areas, the total number of betting shops decreased from 9,128 to 9,112 between March 2012 and March 2013. The big four operators – William Hill, Ladbrokes, Gala Coral and Betfred – accounted for 85% of all shops.