Gambling in the UK – Statistics and Numbers

Viktor Vangelov | Published 23 Sep 2019, 8:32 p.m.

Gambling in general, and particularly gambling related legislation has been a commonly discussed topic in the UK, by the general public and especially by stakeholders, such as operators’ representatives, MPs that have been dealing with this issue, as well as charities that are dealing with problem gambling, i.e. that are helping people who have a problem.

Just this month there has been increased pressure on the government to take action on loot boxes and operators’ representatives were drilled at Westminster, over a range of issues including  responsible gambling and its promotion. There’s one trend when it comes to the treatment of gambling and the opinion of the public on the matter.

Punters spent a total of £14.5 billion

This time we’ll have a look at the overall situation in the gambling industry in the UK and how much people spend on gambling. UK Gambling Commission statistics show that people in the UK have spent a total of £14.5 billion in total in the period between October 2017 and September 2018.

This is a slight increase, but what’s more interesting is how much UK punters have wagered online. Namely, the online gambling spent amounts to over £5.5 billion, which is the highest figure compared to other sectors taken individually. Other sectors include arcades, betting, bingo, casinos, national lottery and other lotteries.

It is estimated that both the proportion of the total gambling spent, and the respective amount will grow in the upcoming years. Betting is right behind with over £3 billion, which is not surprising at all, seeing that betting is a popular pastime in the UK and has a rather long tradition. Another great and old tradition – the National Lottery came third with spent of just below £3 billion.

Problem gambling and dealing with its consequences

It is interest to have a look at the gambling participation rates as well, both in terms of gender, as well as age. Men tend to gamble more than women. According to statistics published by the Commission, 37% of all men have gambled, whereas the figure for women is as low as 28%.

When it comes to age, people between 25 and 34 gamble most. A total of 40% of people in that group have gambled, and one in five of all people stated that they have gambled online at least once in the last month. In most cases, the wagers have been placed either on a laptop or a smartphone.

While people wager more, the number of betting shops is in decline, exactly due to the fact that people are gambling online more often. The number of betting shops in September of 2018 was 8,423. It is interesting to note that while the number of betting shops and bingo halls is down, the number of casinos is actually up.

For about 1% of the population, or nine in every 1,000 people have a gambling problem. The founder and director of one of the NHS clinics that are dedicated to gambling classified problem gambling as an activity that can cause people to get into debt, potentially even lose their homes and savings.

With the GamStop scheme players are able to exclude themselves, but despite the fact that many operators have signed up to the scheme, UKGC hasn’t decided to make it mandatory yet.

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