With such a liberal gambling market, Brits have a fair share of betting options to select from. Whatever the individual motivation may be for each person to bet you cannot ignore the fact that gambling in the UK is a huge industry, generating more than £14 billion in gross gambling yield (GGY) every year. The reason behind this high level of revenue is likely also due to the fact that gambling can be accessed so readily and freely online now.
Today, we want to look into exactly how many people gamble, though. And not only that, but how often they have a flutter on their favoured products. Furthermore, is there a gambling option that stands out a lot more than the others, or do they all really have an equal enough appeal for UK bettors? Is the attendance level different for the lottery, sports betting, casino gaming and so on? Join us as we take a look at the statistics behind the UK’s gambling scene.
How Many People Are Involved in Gambling?
It would be unfair to say that everyone is willing to admit that they partake in gambling. Some are fairly open about it, while others are not so forthcoming. This does make collecting specific figures on the subject a little bit harder than it should be. However, some players can be ashamed of their participation, especially if they have an addiction problem. That being said, a general average is not difficult to ascertain from those who are open about their gambling habits.
As things stand at the moment, the country’s National Lottery allows players of age 16 and above to purchase tickets. That is something that is due to change to an age of 18 in the near future, with online purchases of tickets being banned from April and a complete ban in retail stores from October 2021. All other forms of gambling already require you to be at least 18 years old. However, in October of last year, about 47% of the general 16+ population had admitted that they had participated in a gambling activity of some sort.
If only casino gameplay was considered for this, then the statistics still suggest that 32% of the adult population had enjoyed a flutter or two. The survey, which was researched and published by charity GambleAware, displays some interesting information about the country’s gambling industry. For example, 48% of the country’s population engaging in gambling are male, while there 41% of females partaking in gambling. That may seem a little bit surprising, but experts believe that due to the statistics including National Lottery participation, more females are noted by the report than expected.
Other than the lottery, bingo is actually a highly popular gambling activity, and this applies to both sexes. With the fact that online bingo is able to provide not only the games themselves, but the social aspect that comes with many land-based halls, this has risen heavily in popularity with people.
Reports also suggest that around 21% of the adult population had gambled online in October of 2020. Of course, the pandemic may have had a lot to do with certain inflated numbers, thanks to people not being able to leave their homes and visit physical establishments. Therefore, online activity has certainly increased because of this.
Has Betting Frequency Increased in the UK?
If you look at statistics from between the periods of 2016 and 2019, it is clear to see that certain changes have occurred within the gambling sector of the UK. Statistics remain high for those people who state that they enjoy accessing a gambling site or establishment once a week. In 2018, this stood at 31.9% of people polled, although it had dropped by 2019 to a 28.1% figure.
What exactly are these people betting on when they choose to engage in gambling? Well, the popularity of the National Lottery in the UK is without any sort of doubt. It remains as the prime source of gambling within the country for most people. Of course, this is not difficult to understand, as it provides a simple way to engage in betting. Additionally, the fact that player contributions are put towards good causes in the UK adds to its general appeal overall. As well as the National Lottery, the EuroMillions game stands out as being a popular option for players. The People’s Postcode Lottery is a firm favourite amongst people, too.
Sports betting comes in at a firm second position though, with platforms such as Paddy Power and Ladbrokes getting a large share of the attention from gamblers. William Hill remains high up on the list, too. It is bingo that comes in third, with brands like Gala Bingo and Mecca Bingo taking in their fair share of gamers.
Of those people who have admitted to participating in any of these gambling activities, it was the 55–64-year-olds that ranked highest in 2018, with a 55% share of the whole ratio. That changed in 2019 with their numbers sinking and the number of 45-54-year-olds participating rising to 52.8%. And despite 16-24-year-olds currently being able to gamble within the UK, they remain in the lowest participation category. Granted, the number has been steadily climbing since 2017, with a 40.4% share of respondents in this category admitting to gambling in 2019.
Additional Figures of Note
On average, British bettors spend £2.60 per week on gambling, which totals over £135.20 every year. Those within the highest income bracket spend the most, with around £4.20 being the average for such people. Those in the lowest percentile spend the least, standing at about £1.50 per week.
With regard to the lottery, a 29.62% of UK adults admitted to participating in such to the year ending 2019. When you look at the other end of the spectrum in that same time period though, spread betting is right at the bottom, with just a 0.28% share, while virtual sports betting is only just above this with a 0.40% share.
Things also turn around in popularity when you turn your attention to the online scene. Casino gameplay actually excels above and beyond bingo, sports betting and the lottery this way, if figures from the 2018-2019 period are to be believed. These sites made £3,190 million in that time period, with non-remote betting earning £2,812 million in comparison. Of course, the fact that so many land-based establishments for sports betting and the like have closed down in recent years has not helped the latter’s figures.
The same is not true of land-based casinos, though. They remain the one exception to the norm, with 149 premises being noted in 2011, against 155 in 2019. That is an increase of 4% on the number of physical casino operations. Arcades were actually closed the most over the time period, with a 32% decrease in the number of these operating in the UK over the past eight years.
Figures also show that 15% of online gamblers have spent some of their working time participating in gambling. 3.1% of gamblers have also been found to be betting more money than they can afford to lose, with gambling addiction now costing the country between £260 million and £1.2 billion every year.
The average online gambler is also thought to have an average of four different gambling accounts. This includes those for online casino gaming as well as for sports betting and eSports. In-play betting is becoming much more popular these days too, with 25% of bettors placing at least one wager of this type in the past month.
Breaking Down the Sectors
The National Lottery is the most popular form of gambling for most people in the UK. How does this particular gambling option break down into its own sectors of popularity? Well, Lotto draws remain the most popular of them all, attracting a 20.1% share of people (from 4,007 polled), which is down 0.5% since 2019. Then comes the EuroMillions draw, drawing in 17.7% of gamblers. The remaining options are significantly lower, with the Set for Life game attracting 5% of bettors, Thunderball appealing to a 3% share and the Lotto/EuroMillions Hotpicks engaging 1% of people.
Official National Lottery scratch cards remain highly popular too, especially when compared with scratch cards from other brands. A total of 8.1% of people bought the former type while just 0.9% opted for the latter. With regard to the remaining figure of 12.4%, this stands for those people who enjoy playing another type of lottery. This includes options like the Postcode Lottery and the Health Lottery.
If you also look at fruit machines and slot machines, the highest level of participation in these occurs within pubs and arcades. As it happens, a smaller activity level is experienced on these games within casinos and bingo halls, with both sectors only experiencing a 0.2% share of people.
5.3% of people stated that they enjoy a good flutter on sports betting opportunities, with 2.9% accessing horse racing opportunities and another 0.4% engaging in greyhound racing bets. Of the 5.3% betting on sports, 4.7% have preferences for wagering on football, while 0.2% access tennis betting instead. The remainder engage in betting on other sporting events.
Finally, the online slot machine style games and instant win products attracted 4.1% of people by the end of 2020. The highest proportion of these players engaged in National Lottery online instant win games, though.
The same figures to the end of 2020 suggest that most people admit to gambling just once a week, and this has been the highest response since 2016 in most cases. The only time this switched around was in 2019, when people responded more with admitting to gambling once a month, less than once a week.