Britons love to bet on sports, but there is good reason to wager they would love to bet even more. And now there are solid statistics to back up the perception of truly phenomenal growth.
The online sports betting market in the UK was estimated through 2012 to be worth £650 million, with an annual compounded growth rate of approximately 7% over the preceding three years. That would lead one to extrapolate that by 2017 the total should be well over £800. The total online gambling population in the UK was then estimated at 2.1 million customers.
But the authoritative UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) in its most recent comprehensive 2017 report, produced far higher totals. The Commission estimated that in the 12-month period from October 2015 to September 2016, the “remote sector” of the gaming industries – which include online sports betting, bingo and casinos – amounted to a cool £4.5 bn, representing 32% of overall gaming market share.
Remote betting, including betting exchanges and pool betting, produced a one year take of £1.9bn, the total dominated by football (£449M) and horses (£316M), with tennis in a distant third place. Dog racing, golf, cricket, and financial wagering followed. Intriguingly, the UKGC reported cited a sector called Others coming in at an impressive £177 million, including fantasy sports and virtual sports betting. These activities, the report said, have grown substantially in recent years are likely to continue so in the future.
The Commission reported that a total of 21.57 million people in the UK have online gambling accounts, tenfold larger than the 2013 estimate.
The discrepancy in the estimates can be traced in part to legislation which took effect between 2014 and 2015 but the statistics show that growth from April 2014 to March 2015 nearly doubled from 2.2 to 4.2 billion in the parallel period ending in 2016. However, it is important to note that the revenue numbers in the UKGC report refer to Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) – the amount retained by operators after payment of winnings but before deducting the costs of the operation.
Clearly the big betting firms are wagering that many of the sports bettors can be converted to casino players and vice versa. To encourage crossover and conversion, most online gaming sites make things easy. One account gives the players access to everything under the virtual roof. Regular cross-promotions encourage that most difficult first step of placing that first sports bet for casino games players, and that first casino game for the regular online punter.
Online casinos generated the highest turnover of all – £2.4bn – two-thirds of which were generated by such casino games as slots for a total of £1.6bn.
What this means is that slot games alone were nearly equal to the total online sports betting save for the virtual sector.