Despite regulatory crosswinds and tough economic conditions, UK licensed betting firms continue to make hay.
In financial reporting for the calendar year between March 2022 and 2023, it was confirmed that revenue had passed £15 billion – the first time that the milestone has been passed – and nearly £11 billion with National Lottery takings removed.
The data was released by the UK Gambling Commission, who just 24 hours earlier had announced the second set of consultations from the government’s White Paper in a bid to make ‘gambling in Britain safer and fairer’.
One of the key drivers of the sectors success has been online casino gaming, which enjoyed its own record financial year with revenues of £4.03 billion.
Specifically, it’s online slots that are yielding the highest returns for casino sites, netting £3.2 billion – more than 25% of all non-Lottery gambling revenue in the UK.
Perhaps alarmed at those figures, the government has pre-emptively looked to clamp down on online slots by considering the implementation of stake limits akin to those in place for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops.
Those went to consultation in the summer, with government officials pencilling in a possible maximum stake per spin of between £2 and £15, with the results of that survey period likely to be released in 2024.
“Slot machines in casinos, arcades and betting shops have strict stake limits but very similar games online have none, which can lead to very large and rapid losses of money,” so said the gambling minister, Stuart Andrew, while Labour MP Carolyn Harris called on the government to ‘urgently’ implement a £2 limit per spin.
The Gambling Commission launched its second wave of consultations earlier this week, which will run until February. The regulator is seeking responses from the public and industry stakeholders in a number of areas, including:
- Social responsibility (including possible changes to how bonuses and promotions are offered
- Customer safety tools (such as deposit limits, session times etc)
- Customer funds protection (should gambling firms be more transparent on what happens to customers’ money if they go insolvent?)
Could Gambling Ads Be Banned on London Transport?
When campaigning to become the Mayor of London back in 2021, Sadiq Khan pledged to look into the possibility of banning gambling ads on the city’s transport network.
Since then, there’s been radio silence. Although it seems as if Khan may be called out about his manifesto promise after the matter was raised in Parliament this week.
A number of ministers called for an ad ban across Transport for London, which would bring the gambling sector in line with a number of other industries that are no longer allowed to promote their products on tubes, trains and buses.
Ads that were adjudged to promote ‘unrealistic body images’ were banned from the capital’s transport system in 2016, while three years later advertisements for sugar-heavy snacks and junk foods were prohibited in a bid to drive down childhood obesity.
FA Cup Underdogs Maidstone United Boycott Gambling Ads
Not a million miles away in Kent, Maidstone United have a huge weekend ahead of them.
The National league South outfit are into the second round of the FA Cup, where they will take on League Two side Barrow. And if they can pull off a classic underdog victory, they will go into the hat for the third round – where the giants of the English game will enter the competition.
Anyone attending Maidstone’s Gallagher Stadium home will notice that something is conspicuous by its absence – the club has voluntarily banned gambling ads from appearing on advertising hoardings around the pitch or on their playing kit.
It’s a bold step, given that many non-league football teams are battling for mere survival from a financial perspective, but the club known as ‘The Stones’ have decided not to cash in on a quick book available from UK and overseas bookmakers.
They are a member of The Big Step scheme, a group of football clubs that have voluntarily joined forces to prohibit gambling ads around their stadiums. Other outfits on board include Premier League side Luton Town, AFC Wimbledon and Forest Green Rovers.
As part of the government’s White Paper into potential legislative changes, calls were made to enforce a mandatory ban on front-of-shirt sponsorships in the Premier League – that didn’t come, with EPL clubs instead choosing to introduce a voluntary ban that won’t come into force until 2026.