There has been a dramatic rise in the level of gambling revenue in the UK betting industry, which may provide ammunition for the sector’s critics in the months ahead.
Figures for November showed that gambling yield in the UK was up by 29% based on the month-on-month figure. Revenue in the month was £524 million, driven mainly by the strongest performance by sports betting companies since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
According to figures from the UK regulator, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), sports betting revenue from operators that made up 80% of the market accounted for a total of £290.1 million during the month. At the same time, the number of online betting customers considered to be active rose by 7% on the same month in November, and the number of bets placed rose by 12%.
The results were boosted by a string of unexpected results in football fixtures that came as good news to bookmakers, including the shock defeat of defending English Premier League champions Liverpool to Aston Villa by a score of 7-2.
In the online slots sector, the return of lockdown measures during the autumn saw revenue rise 10% based on month on month figures, growing to £172.5 million, which is the highest number recorded since May. The number of active accounts in the slots sector hit 2.8 million, which is also a record since the UKGC started to publish monthly reports at the beginning of the pandemic.
The number of online slot sessions showed an increase by 12% to 27 million, while there was a similar rise in the number of sessions lasting more than an hour, up to 2.2 million.
Growth was seen in all other areas of the betting sector. Online casino revenue rose 11% to £362.7 million, while virtual sports betting was up 9% to £6.6 million and online poker revenue jumped up by 5%, hitting a total of £8.3 million. The only area that saw a decline in revenue was betting on esports, which dropped 39% to a total of £795,705, representing the lowest total for this vertical since the start of the pandemic.
There are signs too that land-based gambling is starting to recover. Gross gambling yield for land-based gambling reached its highest point since the pandemic began, growing by 3% month-on-month to £74.5 million. Revenue from service betting terminals reached a new high of £41.2 million, representing a 49% month-on-month rise, while the revenue from betting machines also grew by 2% to a total of £88.5 million.
The figures come at a time when the gambling sector in the UK is under intense scrutiny. Former Conservative Party leader, and current MP, Iain Duncan Smith, has called for the UKGC to be scrapped and the UK government has just launched a wholesale review of the modern industry, that was structured by the 2005 Gambling Act.