Gambling Industry Statistics Revealed (Updated 2021) - What Do They Tell Us?

Updated: 921 Other

The Gambling Commission publishes data each year which reports on the size and shape of the regulated gambling industry in Great Britain. Statistics reveal how much is bet, what on, how much is won and lost and much more. Data is available going back to 2009 which allows us to analyse the changing shape of the British betting industry.

Gambling Industry Statistics Revealed (Updated 2021) - What Do They Tell Us?
Nigel Skinner Blog Content Manager

Football Manager Expert and Political Betting Specialist across Exchange and Spread Betting Sites

Gambling Industry Overview

The Gambling Commission publishes data each year which reports on the size and shape of the regulated betting industry in Great Britain. Statistics reveal how much is bet, what on, how much is won and lost and much more. Data is available going back to 2009 which allows us to analyse the changing shape of the British betting industry .

Here we look at the industry statistics in detail with a particular focus on sports betting. How is the industry changing and how does this affect sports bettors as well as sports betting providers?

The latest reporting period covers April 2019 to March 2020 with provisional figures published in November 2020. 

  • Brits lose more money on Lotteries than Sports Betting
  • Betting shop numbers drop sharply as land based gambling declines
  • Revealed - the huge differences in profit margins between land based and online betting

Gambling Industry Gross Gambling Yield by Sector (£m)

Reporting Period Overall Total % Change Total excluding National Lottery & Lotteries Arcades (non-remote) Betting (non-remote) Bingo (non-remote) Casino (non-remote) Betting (remote) Bingo (remote) Casino (remote) Lotteries (remote and non-remote) The National Lottery (remote and non-remote)
Apr 2008 - Mar 2009 8364.92
5699.73 480.35 2903.24 703.11 796.17 783.31 0.47 33.08 143.69 2521.50
Apr 2009 - Mar 2010 8115.64 -3 5277.89 455.96 2811.36 627.22 751.13 607.76 1.51 22.95 158.55 2679.20
Apr 2010 - Mar 2011 8435.70 4 5425.39 392.00 2957.32 625.58 797.43 638.18 2.19 12.69 170.12 2840.20
Apr 2011 - Mar 2012 9026.80 7 5674.28 381.06 3029.59 680.64 872.80 687.92 2.03 20.24 228.61 3123.90
Apr 2012 - Mar 2013 9704.74 8 6152.24 358.71 3198.60 700.90 961.41 887.66 2.46 42.49 273.00 3279.50
Apr 2013 - Mar 2014 9868.62 2 6475.03 379.11 3176.77 673.44 1111.06 1102.85 4.32 27.49 293.79 3099.80
Apr 2014 - Mar 2015 11313.79 15 7731.95 387.22 3266.91 679.02 1159.79 1251.39 72.23 915.38 349.74 3232.10
Apr 2015 - Mar 2016 13456.05 19 9659.49 418.06 3318.19 693.11 999.38 1743.91 122.41 2364.44 379.77 3416.80
Apr 2016 - Mar 2017 13779.80 2 10358.77 424.93 3310.84 684.28 1163.54 1952.99 161.15 2661.04 442.43 2978.60
Apr 2017 - Mar 2018R 14410.55 5 10900.46 424.81 3268.26 680.01 1180.72 2251.61 163.93 2931.13 502.29 3007.80
Apr 2018 - Mar 2019R 14308.15 -0.7 10688.86 438.52 3261.91 674.38 1058.82 2017.35 175.94 3061.93 539.99 3079.30
April 2019 - Mar 2020P 14224.04 -0.6 10213.19 477.25 2402.37 635.95 1016.05 2329.73 176.80 3175.04 611.64 3399.21

*figures in £millions

R - Previously Available Data Revised

P - Provisional Data

Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) is the total amount lost through gambling, calculated by taking all stakes minus all returns. 

  • The total amount lost by Britains through regulated gambling declined for the second year running.
  • Non Remote (land based) betting declined sharply and continued the four year downward trend.
  • The National Lottery and "other lotteries" have seen year on year growth for three years running. 

Gross Gambling Yield By Product Type

Non remote betting in the table above includes revenue from machines which make up 45% of revenue from betting shops. Non remote Bingo was 51% machines and machines in land based casino contributed 27%. 

By combining the machine revenue from all non remote sources with arcades and by bringing online and offline gambling together we can see the gross gambling yield by product type for the latest reporting period. 

Gambling Industry Gross Gambling Yield By Product Type

Product Type Gross Gambling Yield (£m) % of Total Gross Gambling Yield
Casino 3,975.73 27.95%
Lottery  4,010.85 28.20%
Machines 2,089.55 14.69%
Bingo 490.39 3.45%
Betting  3,657.52 25.71%
Total 14,224.04 100%

Combining online and offline forms of gambling shows that majority of spend on gambling was on games of pure chance such as casino, lotteries, bingo and machines.

Machines make up 14.69% of Gambling Commission regulated gambling spend. This excludes machines requiring a local authority permit such as those in licensed premises so the true figures for Britains spend on machines would be higher. As at March 2018 the Gambling Commission estimated that there were over 120,000 machines under local authority permit and thus excluded from this data. 

Sports betting accounted for 25.71% of Great Britain’s gambling spend. 

Sports Betting Gross Gambling Yield Analysed

Within betting there are significant differences in margin depending on how people bet, such as

And what people bet on, such as 

  • Horse Racing 
  • Dogs
  • Football 
  • Other Sports & Events

Gross Gambling Yield is the difference between what is staked and what is returned. The margin is the bookmakers or operators take. You can read more about this in our useful guide; betting odds explained & how bookmakers work.

The Difference in Gross Gambling Yield By Betting Format (Oct 2018 - Sept 2019)

Betting Format Turnover (£m) Yield (£m) Yield %/Margin 
Pool Betting (non remote) 156.18 39.69 25.4%
Over The Counter Betting (betting shop) 7,986.57 1,277.37 16%
On Course Betting 251.94 29.61 11.75%
Remote Betting (excluding pool) 27,870.46 1,926.47 6.91%

The biggest take is with pool betting where with every £1 staked, less than 75 pence is returned. With this form of betting, gamblers make a selection, place their stake and don't know until after the event how much they will be returned. The pool collects all stakes, takes a % cut and then distributes what is left between the winners. 

The figures suggest pool betting is poor value compared to other types of betting. Typically those using the pool are very recreational types of bettors, perhaps on a day out at the races or an evening out at the greyhound track. The pools often run low stakes high pay out bets such as jackpots, placepots, tricasts and forecasts.  Find out more about pool betting in our guide here.

In contrast, remote betting (largely online although could include some telephone betting) has an average yield of 6.91%, meaning that for every £1 staked, more than 93 pence is returned. Showing that online bookmakers take a relatively low margin compared to other operators. There are a number of reasons which may contribute to this;

With over the counter betting (16% yield) there is less likely to be any odds comparison from punters, just betting at the odds of the one bookmaker whose betting shop they use. Betting shops don't provide as generous betting offers and terms offline as are available online. 

On course betting comes out between online and high street bookies largely because there is a competitive nature when it comes to odds. Often in the betting ring there will be a good number of bookmakers, competing for the customers available. Punters can compare odds and choose where to place each bet, which differs to the high street betting shop gambler who may bet with the same bookmaker for all bets. However, racecourse bookmakers don't tend to offer other incentives available online such as best odds guaranteed and as generous place terms for each way bets. 

Even within each type of betting though there can be differences in margin. The latest industry figures reveal that Horse Racing remote margin is significantly lower than that for Dogs and Football.

Remote Gross Gambling Yield By Sport (Oct 2018 - Sept 2019)

Bet Type Turnover (£m) Yield (£m) Yield%/Margin
Remote Horse Racing 9,787.16 578 5.91
Remote Dog Racing 681.23 66.40 9.75
Remote Football 10,737.67 991.47 9.23

Horse racing remote yield as just 5.91%. Typically online horse racing bettors will have several betting accounts and shop around for good prices whilst taking advantage of generous offers and promotions. The online bookmakers have to be competitive with their odds and offers to gain market share. Greyhound and Football odds comparison is less popular, perhaps why both of these are over 9% margin.

Over The Counter Gross Gambling Yield By Sport (Oct 2018 - Sept 2019)

Bet Type Turnover (£m) Yield (£m) Yield %/Margin
Over the Counter Horse Racing 4,216.11 526.2 12.48% 
Over the Counter Dog Racing 1,008.19 155.56 15.43%
Over the Counter Football  1,295.40 318.44 24.58%

Over the counter football betting came in at a huge 24.58% margin compared to online at 9.23%. Traditionally a large amount of betting shop football betting has been accumulator betting which is when a number of bets are combined such as selecting 5 different teams all to win. Combining bets in an accumulator decreases the chances of a return whilst increasing the margin. Typically a one off win single bet will have a low margin, but a number of teams to win in a football accumulator a high margin. 

Additionally a large amount of remote football betting is in play betting (takes place once the match has started), here margins are fairly low when compared to accumulator pre match betting especially. 

Over the counter horse racing margin was double that of remote betting, again emphasising the advantages that online horse racing bettors have. 

Betting License & Shop Numbers Decline Sharply

The above statistics show how much better value online betting can be. So it would be little surprise if sports bettors are moving more of their betting activity from offline to online. This isn't the only thing affecting on course bookmakers and high street betting shops though. 

  • Betting license holders decline for the 12th year running 

  • A huge 12 month decline of 639 betting premises. 

  • Just 7,681 GB betting shops remain (March 2020) from high of 9,128 (2012)

Decline in Betting Licenses Held in Great Britain

Reporting Period  Betting Licenses
31/3/2009 1382
31/3/2014 958
31/3/2018 761
31/3/2019 720
31/3/2020 664

The number of betting license holders in GB has declined from 1382 in 2009 to just 664 in 2020.

Closure of greyhound tracks and racecourses, restrictions on gaming machines are having an affect in addition to the growth in mobile usage. 

Decline in Betting Premises in Great Britain

Reporting Period Active Betting Premises
31/3/2012 9,128
31/3/2017 8,800
31/3/2018 8,599
31/3/2019 8,320
31/3/2020 7,681

A huge decline in active betting shops in the UK from a high of 9,128 in 2012 to just 7,681 in 2020. This was before many shops highlighted for closure had ceased trading and before any affects of Covid 19. 

The decrease in FOBT stakes from April 2019 (the amount per spin for gaming machines) was always going to hit the high street bookies hard. In William Hills 2019 annual report they split their retail revenue by products as 

  • Gaming Machines 44%
  • Horse Racing 21%
  • Football 17%
  • Greyhounds 8%
  • Others 10%

The change in regulations saw maximum stakes for category B2 machines being reduced from £100 to £2. Gaming machines in betting premises saw a decline in GGY. William Hill alone decided to close 713 shops.

Land Based Gambling Moving Online

The various data sets here illustrate how the sports betting industry in Great Britain is changing: sports betting activity is moving from offline to online. These stats were all taken from a period before the Covid 19 outbreak led to lockdowns which is likely to have accelerated this change. 

With the betting shops closed when the major UK sports of Football and Horse Racing returned, there was huge interest in betting online. 

Many who were purely offline bettors may well have opened their first online accounts now. Having experienced the benefits of online betting, will they return to the shops? 

The next set of Gambling Commission statistics will tell us more. Be sure to check back here for our analysis.

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