UK Gambling 2019 – a recap

Viktor Vangelov | Published 31 Dec 2019, 1:28 p.m.

The end of the calendar year is always a good time for a recap of what has been happening in the industry, in general, in the UK, but also in the rest of world. A lot has happened this year, among other things, following the December General Election, the country got a new government. We are yet to see what will be the first steps of the new Tory Government.

New Tory Government – new gambling act?

We are yet to see how the new Government led by Boris Johnson will approach gambling and whether there will be new restrictions. Despite the fact that the Tories had a less anti-gambling attitude compared to Labour, some of their top figures have already expressed an intention to look into gambling laws. Iain Duncan Smith, one of the most prominent Conservative politicians expressed his surprise that the fact that there is no limit on online gambling, alike the £2 limit on FOBTs.

Moreover, in the Tory manifesto, which is now a key document for the actions of the new Government, the Gambling Act is called an analogue document in a digital era. It is reasonable to expect that there will be a new Gambling Act before the next general election, possible in the next year or two.

Number of restrictions were introduced

Let’s have a look at the changes that occurred in 2019. We already mentioned the new stake limit on FOBTs which was implemented in April this year. All UK operators that have high street presence, i.e. that operate betting shops were affected, with many of them reporting serious losses, although in most cases the actual losses were below the predicted levels.

We also have the increased remote gambling duty, another decision which came to power in April this year. Namely, the duty was increased from 15% to 21% which was one of the main reasons for the decline of the industry as a whole.

On top of the betting restrictions and the new duty rate, the regulatory body (UKGC) also introduced new requirements (know your customer), which caused few operators to shut down their UK operations, i.e. stop offering their services to UK punters.

The UKGC penalised a number of UK operators for breaching industry rules and regulations, operators paid almost £14 million in total and it is pretty evident that companies will try to up their game and not be on the receiving end of such penalties any time soon.

On the other hand, despite the industry decline, the bet365 boss was UK’s best paid CEO last year. Namely, Denise Coates earnt a total of £323 million.

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