Participation study reveals subtly changing face of UK gaming

Participation study reveals subtly changing face of UK gaming

Monday, March 19, 2018 Posted by Luke Massey
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The National Lottery remained the biggest gambling attraction

The UK Gambling Commission has published its annual report on participation rates and perception of gambling for 2017, which saw participation on the National Lottery remain by far the biggest gambling activity, although its attraction has waned.

Elsewhere, participation in fruit and slot machines decreased slightly to four per cent. The most popular locations to participate in slots were pubs (2.4 per cent) and arcades (2.2 per cent). Participation in sports betting also decreased slightly to six per cent. Machines in bookmakers (FOBTs) have remained stable from 2016 at one per cent.

The report found that there has been a decrease in in-person participation for a number of activities including the National Lottery draws (76%, a three-percentage point decrease from 2016), other lotteries (59%, a four-percentage point decrease from 2016), and casino games (58%, a four-percentage point decrease from 2016).

Most notably, bingo has seen the greatest decline in people playing in person from 2016 (71%, a 14-percentage point decrease from 2016), which coincides with the decline in the number of bingo premises in the last 12 months.

This year has also seen a decrease in people placing bets on sporting events in person from 2016, which is likely to have been driven by the absence of major high-profile sporting events taking place in 2017 compared with 2016. However, small increases in in-person participation have been seen across a number of betting activities.

For online participation, however, it’s a different story, with all types of gambling activity showing growth with the exception of spread betting and betting on horse races. This is most evident in bingo (40%, a 19-percentage point increase from 2016), which again coincides with the decline in number of bingo premises in the last 12 months.

Increases have also been observed across the National Lottery draws (33%, a five-percentage point increase from 2016) and other lotteries (42%, a four-percentage point increase from 2016). These diverging trends may potentially indicate a shift in channel for many gamblers, either by existing gamblers moving from more traditional in person gambling to online methods, or newcomers choosing to gamble online as opposed to in person.

Ben Haden, programme director at the Gambling Commission said: “Our new three-year strategy sets out our role in developing a strong evidence base and improved understanding of the impact gambling has on society.

“Today’s report makes an important contribution to that work as it presents a comprehensive view on how the British public is choosing the gamble and their attitudes to the current market.

“Our research shows the main factor that influences where someone gambles, is a company with a reputation for being fair and trustworthy. The message from that is clear – gambling companies that treat their customers well and act responsibly will be at an increasingly competitive advantage.”

Totally Gaming says: Gaming in the UK continues to move slowly but inexorably towards more online and digital formats, no surprises there. What is interesting to note, however, is the decline in National Lottery draws, hinting at public dissatisfaction towards a product that sees bigger prizes paid out less often. The most alarming finding, though, is the 14 per cent decline in bricks and mortar bingo participation allied to a fall in the number of premises. Less premises equates to less gaming machines, adding to the ongoing challenges facing the manufacturing sector in the UK.

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