Understanding more about UK's big gambling industry

David Humphrey
Authored by David Humphrey
Posted Monday, January 25, 2021 - 10:48am

The gambling industry in the UK is considered one of the world's biggest. UK's gambling industry grew significantly over the past few years, attracting more and more players by the day. In fact, data shows that the market has experienced a 4.1% growth from 2015 to 2020.

From visiting popular British casino slot games online to playing the National Lottery, Brits are increasingly enjoying gambling activities. This isn't a surprise. There are now plenty of ways to win some money while also having a lot of fun. British players can either bet on sports games, horse races, play games of cards or slots. 

Alongside the fun opportunities it offers, the gambling market in the UK also saw a massive increase and a continuous year-on-year revenue boost. Data shows that the industry has grown in leaps and bounds. How much? Well, in 2018-2019, the UK gambling market generated a gross gaming yield of £14.26 billion, according to data from Statista

Now, when most people think of gambling, they instantly think of the traditional land-based casinos. Yet, believe it or not, brick-and-mortar casinos aren't the most popular form of gambling in the UK anymore. Why? Because the online gambling industry is thriving in the country these days. 

But before we discuss the rise in popularity of online gambling in the UK, let's understand more about the country's overall gambling market. 

UK's betting industry: an overview 

The betting industry in the UK is huge, and it is growing by the day. In fact, the market is so big that it provided 106 thousand jobs in the country in 2019. 

Now, let's break it down to the average British player.

There were 24 million adults in the UK who engaged in gambling activities, out of which 10.5 million gambled online. What's more, estimates suggest that on average, 46% of UK residents place some kind of wager every month. 

Yet, while these numbers sound like a lot, it's not like everybody in the UK gambles out of control. In fact, out of the £14.4 billion gross gaming yield in Great Britain, the average player only spends a very small fraction. More precisely, the average weekly amount of money spent on gambling by the average UK player is £2.57, totalling £133 spent annually. So, the average gambler annual spending on gambling is only £133, indicating that gambling is less of a habit but rather an infrequent past time. 

Online gambling industry in the UK

After the changes in remote gambling legislation in 2014, which implied for non-British providers of gambling activities to be licensed by the Gambling Commission, the UK's online gambling market earned a higher trust from players. 

In fact, the online market accounted for revenue of £5.6 billion out of the £14.5 billion spent on gambling in the UK between 2017 and 2018. More precisely, this means that the online gambling sector accounted for nearly 38.8% of the total figures generated by the UK's gambling industry. 

The UK Gambling Commission actually shared some really interesting figures for the online gambling market for the period of 2018 to 2019. During that time, the numbers that totalled the gross gambling yield for the online betting market in the UK included:

  • Online casinos- worth £3.2 billion (3.9% increase)
  • Online betting- worth £2.1 billion (4.3% increase)
  • Online bingo- worth £198 million (12.5% increase) 

Each of these categories saw an increase compared to the April 2018- March 2019 period. 

Online gambling was already very popular in the UK, even before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic started. However, the global health crisis, followed by all the restrictions imposed by the British government to prevent the virus from spreading, drove an even more significant interest in online gambling opportunities. 

Just like it happened all around the world, land-based casinos in the UK had to close their doors due to lockdown and social distancing restrictions. While this was really bad news for traditional casinos' executives, it was good news for the online gambling market in the UK. 

What do Brits bet on? 

Gambling is a very personal choice that can depend on player to player. But the good news is that the gambling market in the UK provides plenty of gambling opportunities, from sports betting to casino games or online slot games. You could play your favourite online casino games or choose horse racing betting instead. The point is that there are plenty of games to choose from. 

British bettors have a wide range of choice on the types of gambling activities they can have fun with. But, what exactly are the ways British gamblers love to bet? Here are the most popular betting activities players in the UK engage with, along with the percentage of bets that each activity gets. 

  • The National Lottery- Similar to how it is in most European countries, the National Lottery is the top spot for most money wagered by Brits. The National Lottery attracts nearly 27.6% of the UK's gambling community. 
  • Scratch Cards- With a percentage of 11.2, scratch cards occupy the second place for the most popular gambling form. 
  • Another lottery- There are more lotteries in the UK besides the National Lottery. 10% of UK's gamblers choose other lotteries for betting activities. 
  • Sports betting- The sports betting market in the UK is very popular worldwide. 6.6% of Brits place their wagers on sports, be it football or any other sport. 
  • Horse Races- 3.8% of the participants in the UK's gambling market prefer horse racing betting. 
  • Slot machines- really close behind horse race betting are the slot machines, with 3.7% of British gamblers choosing this gambling activity. 
  • Bingo- 2.6% of UK's gamblers are still in love with this childhood game. 
  • Other games- 1.6% of the gambling community engages with other types of gambling and betting games.


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