UK Gambling Market in the News — Weekly Round-up for December 01, 2017

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Dec 1, 2017

UK Online Market Keeps Growing

Latest Gambling Commission figures put online GGY at GBP 4.7 billion

The latest numbers from the UK Gambling Commission, covering the period April 2016 to March 2017, show that online gross gambling yield (GGY) totals GBP 4.7 billion – a 10.1 percent year-on-year rise, and an improvement on the GBP 4.5 billion generated between October 2015 and September 2016.

The gambling sector as a whole delivered GGY of GBP 13.7 billion, a 1.8 percent rise on the same period last year, but behind the GBP 13.8 billion recorded in October 2015 to September 2016.

Online gambling is now responsible for 34 percent of the entire UK market, up 1.5 percent on last year.

The latest report shows that there has been a 3.9 percent decrease in the number of retail betting shops in the UK, down to 8,502, whilst bingo land facilities declined 1.4 percent to 583. There has also been a reduction in the number of licensed gaming arcades in the UK during the period.

The total number of land casinos increased by 1 to 146, and the number of land-based gaming machines climbed 1.8 percent to 182,916.

The report notes that contributions to good causes from the UK National Lottery fell 16.9 percent year-on-year to GBP 1.5 billion, although contributions from large society lotteries jumped 20.5 percent to GBP 255.6 million.

The number of UK persons employed by the gambling industry as a whole fell 1 percent to 106,236.

Tim Miller, executive director of the UKGC, said:

“These latest figures show that the gambling market is continuing to grow, particularly in the online sector.

“However, with such growth comes a great responsibility for operators to prevent gambling-related harm to all consumers and the public. We would urge all gambling businesses to be acutely aware that as their market grows so too will our focus on ensuring that consumers are protected.”

Noticeable Uptick In Self-Exclusion Gambling Cases

UK Gambling Commission report reveals that gambling firms received almost 50,000 SE requests in 2017-2017

The current UK Gambling Commission review on gambling in the UK during the 2016-2017 period reveals that gambling firms received almost 50,000 requests to self-exclude from punters over the period.

Across all forms of UK gambling there were 49,385 requests.

That’s an increase of 7,000 over the corresponding period in the previous year, and comes as operators prepare to implement a mandatory nation-wide, single entry scheme for self-exclusions dubbed Gamstop (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Once installed and operational in 2018 the system will replace the present practice of punters having to self-exclude from specific casinos or websites, enabling them to opt out of gambling with a single request via a dedicated website.

The Commission has predicted that in the not too distant future more than half of UK gambling will be online (currently over a third is via the internet).

Gambling spend online increased by more than GBP 428 million in 2016-17 compared with the year before, delivering GGY of GBP 4.7 billion, whilst spend on the National Lottery fell by GBP 438 million. Total spend on gambling – all types – increased by GBP 249 million.

British Government To Ban EuroMillions Sales

Lottoland likely to be impacted by DCMS ban

The UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced Thursday that it will ban betting on non-UK EuroMillions through a statutory licence condition following a recently concluded investigation.

The ban will likely be welcomed by the UK National Lottery, which has seen stakes decline in recent times (see previous InfoPowa reports), but has already been criticised by re-seller Lottoland, whose CEO Nigel Birrell protested that the decision does not reflect the evidence gathered during the investigation.

“We believe that today’s decision is unjustified, and sets a dangerous precedent for policy-making on the basis of no evidence,” he said. “It will do nothing but stifle innovation in the sector.

Birrell said that a review period would have been a proportionate and responsible way forward that would have allowed for a final decision to be made on real evidence.

“Given the significant impact to our UK business of this decision, we are reviewing all available options before determining our next steps,” he concluded.

The government investigation looked at alleged loopholes in gambling regulations that have made it possible for operators of gambling websites to offer betting markets on the EuroMillions lottery results

In a statement announcing its intentions Thursday, the DCMS said:

“We consider that betting on non-UK EuroMillions draws is contrary to the intention and spirit of section 95 of the Gambling Act and the established principle that operators should not be permitted to offer bets on the National Lottery.”

The statement goes on to specifically claim that there is a risk that allowing the present activity to continue will negatively impact National Lottery sales, and the donations to good causes that flow from these.

“We are mindful of the effect on impacted businesses, and will tailor the licence condition to ensure it is in line with our aims to reduce consumer confusion, and protect returns to good causes in the UK. Betting operators will still be able to offer bets on international lotteries,” the statement advises.

UK Gambling Commission Says Loot Boxes Are Not Gambling (Update)

Differing views among regulators regarding video game reward

The UK Gambling Commission has taken a different view to that of Belgian and Australian regulators regarding loot boxes in video games and whether these constitute gambling (see previous InfoPowa reports), saying that it does not believe the in-game rewards fall under the definition of “licensable gambling activity.”

The Commission has pointed out that the mystery prizes unlocked in loot boxes are usable only within the games in which they are won, can’t be cashed-out, and that therefore these elements do not fit the definition of gambling.

However, the Commission has noted its concern, saying that the boundary between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred, and warning that its mandate is to step in should the practice evolve into a form that meets the definition of gambling under UK law.

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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