UK Online Gaming Revenue Totals $759M in March, as Britain Remained in Lockdown

Posted on: May 6, 2021, 03:06h. 

Last updated on: July 7, 2021, 01:11h.

UK online gambling continued to flourish in March, as the vast majority of Brits were continued to be locked down on stay-at-home orders.

UK online gaming casino UKGC
Online gambling is thriving in the UK, despite high street betting shops continuing to close. Once such former William Hill shop in Thornton is pictured. (Image: Thornton Health Chronicle)

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) this week reported record online slot machine revenue for a single month. Interactive gaming platforms said their slots generated GGR of £202.9 million ($282 million). That’s a 4.1 percent increase on February, and is the highest iSlot yield in UK history. 

In addition, online oddsmakers kept £250.5 million ($348 million) worth of gamblers’ sports bets. Paired with internet table games, which resulted in GGR of $99 million, online poker, esports betting, and other online gambling formats, March GGR for iGaming totaled a staggering £546.2 ($759 million). 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed high street betting shops to reopen effective April 12. Prior to that, the sportsbook and gaming businesses were required to remain shut, as an increase in new COVID-19 cases strangled Britain. 

Online Gaming Concerns

The UK gaming industry is the subject of a thorough review being conducted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The parliamentary agency is reviewing all regulations imposed by the 2005 Gambling Act that govern the ever-expanding industry. 

DCMS is also considering new protocols being pushed from gambling critics. One key issue is whether the UKGC should require online gaming operators to limit how much a person can lose before requiring that individual to prove he can afford additional losses. 

The Social Market Foundation, a respected independent political think-tank in Britain, has called on parliament to force iGaming companies to conduct “affordability checks” after a gambler loses £100 ($139) in a single month.

This is a vital area to continue to address, because while some operators have continued to improve their customer interaction processes, our evidence shows that many online operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels,” a recent statement regarding internet limits from the UKGC explained. “They are not taking the appropriate action or acting quickly enough when they do identify risks of potential harm.”

The UK gaming industry opposes such a measure on grounds that operators already have appropriate safeguards in place to combat potential problem gambling. 

Brick-and-Mortars at Disadvantage

It’s been a devastating 24 months for high street betting shops, a longtime staple of Britain’s cities and small towns. On April 1, 2019, the maximum bet on a fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) — devices that operate similarly to slot machines — was slashed from £100 to just £2 ($139 to $2.80). 

The regulatory adjustment resulted in more than 1,000 high street betting shops closing, and many thousands of workers put out of work. COVID-19 and Johnson’s resulting closures of nonessential businesses, including bookmakers, saw many more high street betting businesses shutting their doors.

Meanwhile, online slots are not subject to the £2 per bet maximum, nor were they forced to close during the pandemic.