UKGC Numbers Indicate Surge in Online Activity During Pandemic

The British Gambling Commission has issued an interim report highlighting the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the UK gambling industry. The figures, collected from operators between April and September 2020, show a gross gambling yield (GGY) of £5.89 billion during the period.

ukgc online surge

A closer look at the numbers reveals that online casinos and bookmakers generated £3.08 billion or 52.29% of the revenue, an increase of 9.6% from the £2.81 billion retained between April and September 2020.

Of the total, £1.94 billion came from online casino gaming, indicating a 22.7% growth from the revenue generated during the same period in 2019. Online sports betting operators, on the other hand, took in £1.04 billion, a decrease of 8.8% from the previous year. The slight dip can be attributed to the disruption of sporting events during the period.

The revenue generated by online bingo was £98.1 million, amounting to a 6.2% increase from £92.4 million for the same period in 2019.

The number of online gaming accounts registered over the six months period was 15.3 million, though the total number of active users went down from 31.0 million in September 2019 to 30.7 million in September 2020.

Retail Sector Hardest Hit by Pandemic

The figures released by the UKGC show that the land-based sector was severely impacted by the pandemic.

betting retail

According to the report, the revenue posted by retail bookies during the period was £629.3 million compared to £2.21 billion between April 2019 and March 2020. Brick-and-mortar casinos were hardest hit, seeing that the venues brought in just £67 million during the six months compared to £1.02 billion generated from April 2019 to March 2020.

Land-based bingo also saw a decline in gross gambling yield, with the operators retaining £92.0 million compared to £575.2 million from April 2019 to March 2020.

The massive decrease was mostly due to Covid-19 restrictions and closures.

Football Dominates UK Sports Betting

Football continues to reign supreme in UK sports betting as revealed in the latest gambling report issued by Gambling Commission. According to the figures, football bets accounted for 48.4% of the total yield generated by licenced bookmakers across the jurisdiction, with horse racing coming a distant second at 28%. Tennis betting represented 5% of the total yield, and dogs generated 3.1% of the revenue.

Virtual sports and golf brought in 3.2% and 0.7% of the GGR, respectively.

Operators Forced to Close Shop Due to Covid-19 Impact

out of betting business

A further breakdown of the UKGC figures indicates that there were 2,522 active operators in the UK gambling market as of September 2020, down from 2,577 in March 2020 and 2,689 in March 2019. The number of licensees offering multiple gambling services, on the other hand, declined from 381 to 379.

When it comes to active gaming venues in the jurisdiction, there were 9,036 active premises in September 2020 compared to 10,128 in March 2020, amounting to a 10.8% decrease. Of these venues, 6,735 are betting shops and 1,390 are adult gaming establishments.

The number of active casinos in the UK also decreased by 16.02%, from 156 in March 2020 to 131 in September 2020. Active land-based bingo halls also declined from 648 to 601 over the period.

Regulator Asks Operators to Be More Vigilant as SAR Submissions Increase

In other news, the GC has asked operators to be more alert following a surge in suspicious activity reports during the pandemic.

In its latest emerging risks bulletin, the regulator has revealed that the National Crime Agency (NCA) has reported a significant rise in SAR submissions since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this light, the Commission has urged operators to carry out stricter due diligence checks and submit suspicious activity reports to the Financial Intelligence Unit whenever they identify or suspect terrorist financing or money laundering. Among the transactions identified as high risk are payments made using crypto-assets.

Failing to report such activities will be considered a criminal offence, warns the regulator.

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