Football floats all UK betting boats in October


UK gamblers boosted their activity across all verticals in October, but football’s return relegated online slots to second place among customer losses. 

Figures released Thursday by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) show its online licensees’ gross gambling revenue (GGY) hit £542m in October, a 29% rise from September’s result. The UKGC credited the gain in part to the recent return of Premier League football boosting active accounts by 7%, as well as a number of bookie-friendly results.  

Football’s resumption pushed real event online betting GGY up 52% from September to £290m, with the number of individual bets rising 12%. For the first time since the UKGC began its pandemic market watch in March, online betting customer losses exceeded those for online slots. 

Football was the tide that lifted all betting boats in October, as retail wagering totaled £115.6m, up 15.6% from September. Bets placed by self-service betting terminals (SSBT) drove the retail gains, with SSBT GGY up 49% to £41.2m while OTC betting rose a mere 3% to £74.5m (likely due to bettors’ pandemic preference for dealing with machines, not humans). 

Virtual sports betting GGY staged a minor comeback in October, rising 9% to £6.6m, while eSports continued its descent into irrelevance, falling 39% to just £796k. 

October’s online slots GGY was up 10% to £172.5m, reversing September’s modest decline, and marking the highest GGY total since May’s £184.3m. Individual slots spins rose 8%, also the highest since May, while active slots jockeys hit a new pandemic high at nearly 2.8m. 

Other online casino products reported GGY up 11% to £62.7m, with active players up 9% to nearly 1.8m, although the number of individual bets placed rose only 2% from September. Online poker staged a minor rally, with active players up 4% to 308k and GGY up 5% to £8.3m. 

While all gaming verticals reported gains in active customers, the number of customers who engaged in more than one vertical was effectively unchanged from September to October, while remaining well below April’s multi-product peak

The UKGC’s ongoing data dumps will play a role in the UK government’s long-delayed review of the Gambling Act 2005, which finally got underway this month. Expectations are that UK-licensed operators will face significant new limits on a host of fronts, with the inevitable result of prodding many customers to seek out internationally licensed sites with fewer curbs.