Online gambling: Not as big as it seems

Millions of people play at an online casino with real money, bet on sports, play bingo, and poker over the Internet.

When putting it this way, it seems like online gambling is a huge industry, with many billions in revenues generated each year – this is what you would expect from a global internet business, after all.

And the presence of online gambling is thought to be especially strong in the United Kingdom, where some of the biggest online gambling groups of all time were born – think Bet365, William Hill, Betfair, and their likes.

Well, compared to the land-based industry, the online gambling business is still at its beginnings, even after more than two decades from its birth, the numbers published by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) show.

The market

A few years ago, the UKGC changed its regulations, no longer accepting EU-licensed operators such as the Royal Vegas serving the British public.

Instead, it required the operators to obtain a license and pay quite a burdensome tax on all their revenues generated inside the UK.

Considered a protectionist measure by many, this change in regulations pushed most smaller, independent, and international gambling groups, such as the Royal Vegas, out of the UK for good, leaving the market open for local companies and major international operators.

Today, the UK’s gambling industry has over 100,000 employees, the UKGC’s numbers show. The country has close to 9,000 betting shops, over 580 bingo halls, close to 140 casinos, and a gross gambling yield (GGR – stakes minus wins in a certain time period) of almost £14 billion.

Out of this amount, only £4.5 billion (less than a third) was generated by the remote betting, casino, and bingo sector. Which shows that while there is a lot of money in online gambling, there’s far more of it in the traditional (land-based) sector.

The players

According to the results of a survey conducted by the UKGC, 48% of the respondents have participated in gambling in one form or another in the last year (growing from 45% a year before).

Only 17% of the respondents (growing from 15% a year before) have reported participating in online forms of gambling, and more than 90% of them have reported having gambled from home.

It is interesting to see that, even though most people gamble from the comfort of their homes, more than 40% of them have used mobile devices to do so, showing the increasing popularity of this method as a whole.

Some interesting facts about gambling: 44% of the respondents who have gambled were women, busting the myth according to which gambling – and risk-taking in general – was a man’s entertainment.

When it comes to gambling devices, the laptop remains the most popular, followed by the PC, the smartphone, and the tablet.

Smart TVs were also used to gamble but only by a tiny proportion of the players.

Last but not least, here’s an interesting statistic for you: only 23% of all respondents – mostly women and players aged above 65 – have read the terms and conditions imposed by the gambling venue used.

The majority of respondents blame the length and “legalese” for not reading the terms. At the same time, only 34% of the respondents consider gambling operators trustworthy, while almost 40% of them think it is associated with criminal activity.

Image courtesy of Kanijoman via Flickr, with thanks.

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