July 25, 2024

Bingo and On-Premises Gambling Revenues Hit By Pandemic, while Online Activities Thrive

Traditional gambling markets have been hit hard by the pandemic, with many venues being forced to close for long periods.  This is reflected in HMRC’s October update to their gambling statistics report, with latest figures showing reduced activity in machine gaming activity and bingo, as pubs and clubs have been subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

Overall, the UK’s gambling revenues are down by 8%, although there were signs of recovery in September and October,

Apart from April, however, the remote gaming duty, which applies to online gambling, each saw a significant increase against last years performance, with July 2020 reaching a peak of £217 million, the highest month on record for RGD receipts.

Gambling expert Jason Farrell, who works for JustUKClub, believes that we can expect online activity to continue to thrive provided the UK does not seek to increase the already strict legislation.  He says:

“While it appears that online gambling is stealing the show, It’s important to remember that many of the online gambling companies are owned by the same companies who run the land-based activities, so while the way we play has changed, in many respects the players are still the same and so are the play enablers.  This is good because if players are using licensed UK companies, gamblers who have registered with gamstop are also protected and the UK is still gaining revenue.  It’s important that these operators are given encouragement.

“If regulation increases, forcing UK operators to reduce the variety of options for online players, this could drive more gamblers to choose non-UK sites, making the picture less rosy for the UK economy.  New non gamstop casinos and no verification casinos are already opening all the time, these are not licensed in the UK and operate abroad, meaning no income for the UK Treasury and less protection for gamblers who have registered with gamstop to curb their habit.”

“The UK physical gambling industry has already taken a hit from policy changes from April 2019 which reduced maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT).  While this was welcomed by gambling charities, with on-premises subsequently hit hard by a pandemic, it’s important to remember that online, gamblers have a choice as wide as their access to the internet.

“If we get online play right, the UK economy will continue to enjoy a significant contribution from the gambling industry – and may even see an increase as more people are finding games they enjoy playing online, as well as returning to on-premises gambling when they can enjoy real-world socialisation again.

“The UK Economy needs the revenue and the jobs that the Gambling Industry provides. As online continues to grow, the UK needs to support and encourage UK online operators.