We knew that the COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 dealt a huge blow to the UK gambling industry but only now have numbers to show up how bad things got.
The UK Gambling Commission recently released a report which showed that land-based casinos and live sporting events were the hardest-hit sectors, though remote operators were also affected.
The latest statistics cover the period between April 2020 to September 2020.
The Gambling Commission’s Industry Statistics report includes an overview of Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) by sector, as well as the numbers of authorized operators and gambling establishments in Great Britain. The information is based on data reported by licensed operators.
Statistics for April 2020 – September 2020 show that the gambling industry in Great Britain generated £5.9 billion in GGY, representing a dramatic drop from £14.2 billion for the period covering April 2019 – March 2020. The huge difference is partly due to the duration of the reporting period, but even if that’s the case, betting activity for March 2020 declined significantly due to government-mandated lockdowns.
Land-based Operations, Live Betting Worst Affected
On March 23, 2020 gambling establishments across Great Britain were ordered to shut their doors, including casinos, racetracks, and bingo halls. The temporary closure went on for months, which also impacted live sporting events.
As a result, all of the major gambling companies operating in the UK incurred massive losses. For instance, one of UK’s biggest multi-channel casino operators, Rank, suffered staggering losses of £10 million a month. Genting, another casino giant, also decided to permanently close three of its casinos, as well as all of its UK poker rooms.
The live betting sector was also greatly affected by the pandemic, as it also recorded a drop in total GGY. The number of active betting stores was also down by 12.3% as of September 2020.
Pandemic Fuels Online Gaming Growth
Home quarantine measures led to a massive surge in online traffic, with online gaming sites holding major tournaments. The huge spike benefitted the entire remote gambling sector which recorded the largest GGY of £3.1 billion for the reporting period, accounting for 52.3% of the overall market.
Online casino games generated the largest GGY of £1.9 billion, followed by remote betting (£1.0 billion), and remote bingo (£98.1 million).
The online gambling sector reported £5.7 billion in GGY based on the Gambling Commission’s previous report covering the full-year period April 2019 – March 2020. Taking this into account, and assuming that online activity still remained strong despite the easing of restrictions, GGY for the online gaming sector could increase by around £500 million when the regulator releases its next full-year report (April 2020 – March 2021) in November.