UK online gambling reports first negative revenue growth


uk-online-gambling-sector-negative-growthThe UK’s online gambling market suffered its first ever revenue decline, with race betting fingered for dragging down the numbers.

New figures released by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) show the UK gambling market generated gross gambling yield (GGY) of £14.4b in the 12 months ending March 31, 2019, a modest 0.3% decline from the 12 months ending March 2018. The decline is slightly greater compared to the 12 months ending September 2018, which saw GGY of £14.5b. The UKGC’s next market report will come in May 2019.

The headline takeaway from the UKGC’s latest report is the first recorded decline in online GGY. Online remains the biggest single chunk of the UK gambling market at £5.3b, or 37.1% of the total pie. However, that sum represented a 0.6% year-on-year decline, thanks to sports betting falling nearly 11% to £1.83b despite a 2.7% rise in turnover.

Most of the betting decline came courtesy of the horseracing segment, which saw GGY fall 15% to £522m. Football GGY was down a comparatively modest 4.4% to £991m while virtual sports GGY slid 12.5% to £68.6m. Exchange betting, which isn’t included in the overall betting stat, saw GGY slip 1.4% to £166.4m.

Online casino fared far better, with GGY rising 6% to £3.11b as casino turnover improved 8.7%. Bingo GGY rose 7.4% to £176.1m and pool betting shot up 17.4% to £33.7m.

The number of new online account registrations was up around 1m to 33.3m but active accounts fell 9.3% to 31m.

Land-based betting GGY fell less than 1% to £1.42b while turnover rose 2% to £8.91b. Horse and dog racing each reported declines in GGY and turnover, while football saw decent gains in both categories.

This is the final UKGC report prior to the April 1 implementation of the new £2 maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) in high street betting shops. Betting shop machine GGY was down less than 1% to £1.83b – although this represented the first machine decline in a decade – thanks to B2 machines falling nearly one-third to £1.16b.

However, betting shops’ B3 machines – which were already limited to £2 stakes – reported GGY more than quadrupling to £670.8m, thanks to what the UKGC called “improvements in the way we collect and report granular data for those cabinets that offer games across multiple categories.”

The number of betting shops fell 3% to 8,320, marking the sixth straight year of real estate shrinkage. This shrinkage is set to accelerate dramatically as betting operators have closed hundreds of shops following April’s FOBT stake decline.

As for the market’s other segments, National Lottery sales rose 4% to £7.2b while land-based casino GGY fell 10.3% to £1.6b predominantly due to declining table game activity. Land-based bingo GGY was down less than 1% to £677m and arcades were up 1.8% to £429.6m.