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UK online gambling thrives, betting shops decline

Gambling stats UKGC

THE number of betting shops in the UK is declining, while online gambling is increasing in popularity, according to the latest statistics.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) releases gambling industry statistics twice a year and the latest results, which cover online and offline gambling in Britain, has revealed that the overall market is growing.

The UK gambling industry recorded a total gross gambling yield of £13.7 billion for the period between April 2016 and March 2017, which is a 1.8 percent increase from 2015-16.

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But it’s the online sector which is doing all the growing, with the regulator revealing that UK gamblers wagered almost £4.7 billion online between 2016-17, which is a hefty 10.1 percent increase for the period 2015-16.

UKGC Commission Executive Director, Tim Miller, said that the latest figures “show that the gambling market is continuing to grow, particularly in the online sector.”

“However, with such growth comes a great responsibility for operators to prevent gambling-related harm to all consumers and the public,” he added.

“We would urge all gambling businesses to be acutely aware that as their market grows so too will our focus on ensuring that consumers are protected.”

However, the stats also revealed that online gambling operators received 50,000 requests from customers to close their accounts last year, which is up from 43,000 the previous year.

Operators are also preparing to offer a national problem gambling scheme called GamStop. From early next year, online gamblers will be able to opt out from all forms of betting by entering their details at the one website.

It isn’t looking as good on the land-based front though, with a 3.9 percent decrease in the number of UK betting shops in the last six months, from 8834 to 8502 in March 2017.

The UKGC state that the number has been in a continual decline and has reached an all-time low since they began recording the results in 2009.

Chief Executive of the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), Malcolm George, said the decline represents bad news for retailers which have been present for over 55 years.

“The government are currently consulting on gaming machines in betting shops,” he said.

“Any significant change in regulation could lead to over half of all shops closing and the loss of a further 21,000 jobs while doing nothing to address problem gambling.”

According to the statistics, the total number of employees in the gambling industry fell one percent to 106,236 between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Other findings include a 1.4 percent decrease in the number of bingo premises to 583 and a 5.1 percent decrease in licensed arcades to 1750.

Land-based casinos in Britain did a bit better, as the total number increased by 1 percent to 146 venues, and the number of gaming machines increased by 1.8% to 182,916.

While the amount the UK National Lottery contributed to good causes dropped by 16.9 percent to £1.5 billion, large society lottery contributions increased a whopping 20.5% to £255.6 million.