Despite a year of headlines about record fines for operators, the UK Gambling Commission has reported a bumper year for the casino industry.
As a nation, the British are known as big fans of card games including bridge, the nation’s favorite, but also games such as blackjack and baccarat. Gambling on the whole is popular in the UK, from placing bets on the Grand National to playing roulette.
It therefore comes as no surprise that, according to the UK Gambling Commission, the nation’s casino and gaming industry is doing very well.
£14bn in revenue
In the latest figures released by the UK Gambling Commission, the gaming industry is said to have generated £14bn over the last year across all sectors. These figures include income generated by casinos and online gaming companies.
The online gambling sector in particular is thriving in the UK, with gamers often being tempted by the prospect of free incentives and sign-up bonuses. According to this latest round of statistics, the gross gambling yield amounted to £13.9bn between October 2016 and September 2017.
This represents a 0.7% increase on the previous year’s figures, which is a promising sign for the industry on the whole. The announcement may in some parts come as a surprise after a number of large operators such as Betfred announced a fall in year-on-year profits earlier this year.
It would appear that there has been an increase in lower-value gaming that has compensated for this fall in high-end profits, which could give scope for a big increase in revenue should venues find a way to bring back the big-spending clients while holding on to everyday punters.
There is, however, a potential tax increase on the horizon, with news of the UK Gambling Commission’s licensees having to pay an increased rate on online revenue that may rise to 25% from 15%. The hike could be announced during the Chancellor’s budget on 29 October.
Contribution to the economy
The industry makes a significant contribution to the country’s economy as a whole. There are an estimated 100,000 gaming-related jobs in Britain. There are 152 casinos across the nation and 8,500 betting shops, numbers that remain high despite the general shift towards online forms of gaming and stricter rules on fixed odds betting terminals.
As it stands, there are 183,928 gaming machines in operation and 33,648 B2 machines. They generate an impressive £2.8bn and £1.8bn of revenue respectively on an annual basis.
The industry also benefits a number of charitable organizations. One of the biggest gaming operators in the country is the National Lottery, which contributed £1.5bn to good causes in the 12 months to September 2017.
During the same period of time, other society lotteries generated a further £251m for other worthy causes.
However, legislative changes are due to be introduced to regulate the amount that can be spent on fixed odds betting terminals. The limit was reduced earlier this year from £100 to just £2. Figures for the next financial year could see a drop in the amount of money generated by such terminals as a result.
The delay in implementing the cap has been criticized by gambling addiction campaigners, but it is likely to have positively impacted revenue figures for this year.
Online casinos growing
A large amount of the industry’s success in the country can be attributed to the growth in the online gaming market. Online betting, casinos, and bingo together make up 35% of the market in the UK now. That is a 1% increase compared to the previous financial year ending in March 2017.
Online casinos are proving particularly popular, especially those that combine land-based elements such as roulette, baccarat and blackjack, including a live host who deals via live stream.
The total gross gambling yield for remote gambling was £4.9bn for the period October 2016 to September 2017. The Gambling Commission is set to publish another set of figures next month that will confirm if this trend is continuing or if it was a momentary boost in the sector.
The commission is set to introduce new rules to regulate the online gambling market on 31 October, which could affect the sector in the short term. It will be worth keeping an eye on the figures that will be released in coming months to see how revenue is impacted.