Online gambling in the UK is at an all-time high amid constant government turnover and growing problem gambling. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
More than one in four people in the UK actively gamble online, according to figures released by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC).
44% of UK residents bet in person, just missing the pre-pandemic mark
While 27% of people gamble online, 44% of UK residents bet in person, narrowly missing the pre-pandemic mark of 47% as of September 2019. The proliferation of the gambling market has sparked both pride and the concern of different entities.
With the recent change of Prime Minister, updates to gambling laws may soon take place. Either way, it’s safe to say that the UK will continue to grow its successful market with or without new legislation.
Distribution of gambling in the UK
The Commission’s study was analyzed by the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT), which found that the 25-34 age group saw the greatest increase in participation. 43% of people in the age bracket had gambled at least once in the past four weeks, a 5% increase from the same period a year earlier.
The 35-44 age bracket saw the biggest increase in online gambling, rising from 29% to 32%. UKAT also reported that every age group except the 65+ bracket increased their participation in online gambling.
The UKAT also revealed an increase in problem gambling rates. The 16 to 24 age group showed the largest increase, rising from 0.4% to 1.4% the previous year.
Problem gambling has been an ever-present danger to the UKGC. There were encouraging signs earlier this year when the National Lottery reported an increase in total sales and a decrease in problem gambling rates, but the recent revelation contradicts their findings.
Nuno Albuquerque, the chief treatment consultant at UKAT, is urging the government to publish its overdue white paper on gambling reform.
we are still awaiting the government’s Gambling Law Reform 2005 White Paper”
“Online gambling is on the rise again and we are still awaiting the 2005 white paper on gambling law reform from the government – things are getting dangerous,” he said. “Yes, there has been political unrest, but we really need to see the results of this long-awaited reform in order to better protect those who play.”
Changes at the top
The UK gaming market, despite its great success, is in a decisive period. There is pressure on the English Premier League and EFL to end their affiliations with betting operators, while government oversight has been polluted by the constant change of prime ministers.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would hear a white paper on gambling reform but resigned before he could deliver on his promise. Substitute Liz Truss showed no interest in the matter.
The blame now lies with Rishi Sunak, who was formally saluted on Tuesday morning. However, he seems more focused on other short-term areas.
“I will put economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda,” Sunak said in his first comments as the country’s 57th prime minister. “This work begins immediately.”
According to Finder, around £1.27 billion ($1.46 billion) is wagered annually in the UK. This year’s total could easily top that mark with the lure of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.