Online gambling claims ever-larger share of UK market


uk-gambling-commission-market-statisticsOnline gambling is taking an ever-greater slice of the UK market’s overall revenue, according to new statistics.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently issued its latest statistics covering the 12 months spanning April 2017 to March 2018, during which time the market’s overall gambling revenue hit £14.4b, a 4.2% rise from the period spanning April 2016 to March 2017.

Online gambling accounted for £5.3b of the latest total, up 12.8% from the previous period, while the online share of the total pie increased 2.8 points to 37.1%. Betting ranked second with a 23% share, followed by the National Lottery (21%), casinos (8%), bingo (5%) large society lotteries (4%) and arcades (3%).

The UKGC had issued 888 online activity licenses as of March 31, up from 780 at the end of March 2017. Operators whose head offices were based in the UK held a 41% share of online activities, followed by operators based in Malta (21%), while Gibraltar and the Isle of Man tied at 7% apiece.

Online casino games accounted for the bulk (£2.92b) of online gambling revenue, while online betting ranked second with £2.07b. Bingo (£164.8m) narrowly edged out exchange betting (£160.6m) for third place and pool betting brought up the rear with £28.7m.

Slots accounted for 69.1% of online casino revenue, up from 64.5% in the previous year’s report. Table games (counting roulette) ranked second with a 14.5% share, down 1.3 points year-on-year. Poker saw its revenue share plunge from 5.9% to 3.7% over the same span, even as poker revenue enjoyed a modest revenue rise to £106.6m.

Football accounted for almost exactly half (£1.04b) of online betting revenue, horseracing ponied up £610m, ‘other’ sports added £259m while tennis contributed £144.6m.

There were 33.6m active online accounts at the end of March, up significantly from 29.7m in the previous report, while new account registrations increased by 4.5m to 35.4m. However, funds held in these accounts fell from £875.5m to £784.8m over the same span.

Land-based betting revenue fell by £137.6m to £3.25b during the period, representing a 22.6% cut of the overall market. Of this, £3.08b came via off-course bookmakers, whose ranks (in terms of number of operator licenses) decreased by 10.6% during the period.

There were 8,557 off-course betting shops at the end of March, 254 fewer than at the end of March 2017. The number has continued to decline since then, falling to 8,406 at the end of September 2018.

During the March 2017-March 2018 period, GVC Holdings’ Ladbrokes and Gala Coral brands closed a combined 96 shops, William Hill closed 50, independent bookmakers lost 94 while Betfred shut a mere 13.

OTC wagering accounted for £1.3b (-7.2%) of off-course betting revenue, as OTC betting handle fell by £700m to £8b during the period. Football, horse- and dog-racing turnover were all down significantly.

The off-course bookmakers’ gaming machines added revenue of £1.8b (-2.1%), a sum that will almost certainly take a dive in future reports, thanks to the government’s plan to reduce the maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to just £2 by April 2019.

As for the rest of the market, National Lottery sales were essentially flat at £6.94b, the nation’s 152 casinos saw their revenue improve 3% to £984m, bingo revenue dipped 1% to £382m and arcades fell less than 1% to £418m.