The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released its latest annual report. They show that 23.6 million adults around the UK made some form of gambling wager between April 2022 and March 2023.
Their report comes just months after the UK Government finally published their White Paper on gambling reform. The UKGC will have a key role to play in the implementation of the proposals that have been suggested in the White Paper.
One of the concerns of the government is the problems that gambling, whether in-person or online can cause players. The latest UKGC report shows that the problem gambling rate is still a relatively low amount. At 0.3%, those in the UK gambling industry will use this figure to downplay suggestions there may be a major problem, according to a Casino Gambler spokesperson, a website about online gambling in the UK .
According to the UKGC, that figure of 0.3% represents a number between 160,000 and 340,000 adults who can be identified as having a problem with their gambling. That figure is based on data from the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). In terms of gamblers who are considered to be at risk of developing a problem, that’s between 270,000 and 480,000. Anti-gambling campaigners will still state that more work needs to be carried out to reduce even further that level.
The 0.3% problem gambling rate is described by UKGC officials as “statistically stable.” More work is needed though to help those that are having problems.
There were over 2,400 licensed gambling operators in Great Britain last year. Recent years haven’t been easy for the gambling industry, particularly land-based venues. The COVID-19 pandemic caused serious problems for venues such as casinos, betting shops and bingo clubs. They were regularly forced to temporarily close their doors as lockdowns were imposed.
With the pandemic now officially over, how has the gambling industry recovered from those temporary closures? The UKGC report states that recent figures show the gambling sector has recovered well. The Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) was £14.1 billion for the year 2021-22 which was 11% higher than in the previous year.
While the pandemic caused many problems for the land-based gambling venues, it wasn’t quite so bad for the online side of the industry. Gamblers that were unable to go to their usual betting shops/casinos headed online, some for the first time. Being able to play blackjack, baccarat and poker at home while under lockdown became popular, though it did concern those worried it would lead to more gambling harm.
The new report from the UKGC has revealed that for 2021-22, the online and gambling sector had GGY of £6.4 billion. That was 12.4% higher than the 2019-20 total. However, it was 6.2% lower than the 2020-21 figure. A fall was expected once the pandemic was over and the land based venues re-opened. It’s still a very healthy figure for the online gambling industry.
This UKGC report isn’t all about the amount of money that is being gambled. It also looks at the work that the regulatory body carries out. While the UK White Paper on gambling reform was being delayed by the problems in Downing Street, the UKGC were busy taking action against those they’ve issued licenses to.
The past year has seen them take action against 24 operators with £60.1 million issues in either fines or regulatory settlements. William Hill received a £19.2 million sanction, while Entain had to pay £17 million.
Why were online casinos and other sites sanctioned? The main reasons are failures in social responsibility and anti-money laundering procedures. Allowing customers to deposit and lose huge amounts without acceptable checks being carried out always presses the UKGC into action.
The same applies when customers place huge amounts into their online casino accounts. Not taking action to discover where these funds are coming from and if players can afford these amounts is also seriously frowned upon.
It was in 2005 that the current Gambling Act came into force. Since then the industry has been transformed by the arrival of the internet and being able to gamble on your mobile devices. Proposals in the White Paper do address this fact. There are several that will affect the online gambling industry and cause profits to be hit.
These include placing reduced stake limits on casino games such as slot machines. Going back to the concerns over whether gamblers can afford the amounts they place, stricter affordability checks are planned.
It’s not known when the proposals might come into law. It might not be before the next UK General Election. There will be plenty of discussions on gambling reform in the coming months and how they progress are going to be vital for the future of the UK gambling industry, particularly for the online business.