UK Gambling Market in the News — Weekly Round-up for June 15, 2018

Camelot Reveals Record Digital Lottery Sales

Year-on-year digital sales increase reach a record GBP 1.65 billion

UK National Lottery operator Camelot has reported a year-on-year increase in sales, with digital sales performing particularly well to reach a record £1.65 billion. Total sales last year were GBP 6.95 billion, up GBP 26.4 million.

On the digital front mobile sales reached unprecedented sales of GBP 700.6 million – more than 40 percent of total digital sales. The National Lottery app on the Android platform launched last year

Retail sales of GBP 5.3 billion continued to dominate the total at 75 percent of all sales.

Players were paid GBP 3.93 billion in prizes over the year, bringing total prize money paid out by the National Lottery since inception to GBP 67 billion.

Worthy causes benefitted from National Lottery largesse to the tune of GBP 1.66 billion last year…GBP27.3 million more than in the preceding year.

Camelot CEO Nigel Railton commented:

“Given that we had anticipated a further sales decline this year, our achievement in getting The National Lottery back into growth and delivering more money for Good Causes underlines the importance of the work we have been carrying out following the strategic review.

“It’s fair to say that sales benefited from a nice run of luck – particularly on EuroMillions with some incredible jackpots – but the strong foundations and new initiatives that we are putting in place have also started to play a part.”

“While there is much work still to do – and we’ll continue to face challenges beyond our control, such as continuing doubts over the economy and ever-increasing competition from the gambling sector – we’re confident that we have some really strong plans lined up.

“These include improvements to Lotto coming later this year to give our players a better winning experience.”

Addition Of Online Gambling Firms To UK Horse Racing Levy Boosts Racing Industry Coffers

But is there a danger of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Friday’s acceptance by the British Horse Racing Authority of the new horse racing levy, which now includes mandatory 10 percent revenue contributions from online gambling firms taking bets on horse races, is likely to boost the Association’s coffers from the previous scheme’s GBP 54.5 million (2015-16 figures), to a 2017-18 benefit that could be as high as GBP 95 million.

To handle this large annual financial harvest, the Association plans a new entity with responsibilities that include oversight of the levy’s distribution, effective April 2019. This body will replace the dismantled Horserace Betting Levy Board.

However, industry analysts have warned that the recent radical chop in maximum betting stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in high street betting shops will also indirectly impact the horse racing business due to the inevitable reduction in betting company revenues (and therefore the contribution to horse racing) that will follow a need for some retail belt-tightening.

That could extend to online gambling firms if the government tries to recover the tax revenue lost to the FOBT reductions by hiking taxes on internet operators.

The British Horse Racing Association is aware of this danger and voiced its concern over too deep a cut in FOBT stakes earlier this year, citing the consequent erosion of betting companies’ revenues that, ultimately, would impact the amounts paid to discharge levy obligations.

The UK government responded by noting that it was prepared to work with the BHA on a proposal to expand the UK-centric criteria for paying the levy to a more global system where British bookies accepting global racing bets would be expected to include these revenues in calculating their racing levy contributions.

The BHA estimates that such a move could cost UK bookies an additional GBP 15 to GBP 20 million annually, and has toyed with the idea of attempting to persuade government to change the levy criteria from 10 percent of revenue to a percentage based on turnover in order to keep its levy coffers filled.

New Online Casino Enters UK Market

Freaky Vegas powered by FSB

Malta-licensed online casino Freaky Vegas, operated by Glimmer Ltd, has gone live in the UK market.

Powered by FSB Tech, Freaky Vegas marks the first casino-only roll-out by the platform provider.

The new online operation offers a range of content from top providers including NetEnt, Yggdrasil Gaming, EGT and Portomaso Live.

Lucas Godwin, co-founder of Freaky Vegas, said: “We are excited about entering the UK market with FSB as our UK B2B partner and are looking forward to utilising their services.

“It is important to be able to trust a software supplier such as FSB, and I’m very hopeful that the deal will be mutually beneficial in the months and years to come.”

Gambleaware Increases Gamcare Funding Commitment

For UK’s National Gambling Helpline and network of treatment services

GambleAware has agreed to a new GBP 14 million, 3-year funding programme with GamCare for the funding of the UK’s National Gambling Helpline and a national network of treatment services for adults experiencing gambling-related problems.

The agreement represents a 20 percent increase in annual funding and will enable GamCare to continue developing its delivery capabilities, efficiency and effectiveness of treatment across a broad range of interventions.

The substantial increase in funding for GamCare signals GambleAware’s determination to increase capacity in the treatment sector and to provide the resources to drive up standards, a press statement reads.

In addition, GambleAware said it intends to commission new aftercare services to prevent relapse, as well as services that offer help for the families of problem gamblers, including bereavement counselling.

UK Challenger Bank Integrates Responsible Gambling Measures

Feature allows customers to block gambling and betting merchant codes

UK challenger bank Starling has followed in the footsteps of competitor Monzo with the launch of a gambling transaction code blocker for its customers.

The tech solution allows customers to turn on the feature to block betting and gambling merchant codes.

While Starling claims to be the first industry mover, app based challenger bank Monzo announced a similar initiative late last month (see previous InfoPowa report).

Anne Boden, Starling’s CEO, says: “This isn’t about telling customers not to gamble – it’s about providing problem gamblers with a simple and effective tool that can help them to regain control over their finances.”

“I set up Starling Bank with the mission of improving financial health and making banking about the customer again. This is exactly the kind of product that will help us achieve this.”

Starling customers can activate the blocker as an opt-in feature from within their app. With this feature on, all attempted transactions to registered gambling merchants will be declined.

Should customers turn the feature off, they will receive a message containing the National Gambling Helpline number.

Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, adds: “By giving its customers the ability to block gambling transactions, Starling Bank gives them the chance to think twice, and better still, provides contact details for the National Gambling Helpline which offers advice and free treatment.

“GambleAware warmly welcomes this innovation and hopes all other banks will follow this example as soon as possible.”