In the past decade, there has been a seismic change in where Brits go to gamble, and it’s helped Britain’s gambling sector significantly grow in size. Britain’s gross gambling yield has grown from £8.4 billion in 2011 to £14.2 billion in 2020, and it’s largely thanks to the increasing popularity of online betting, the major factor driving the industry’s economic growth.
Between April 2019 and March 2020, there was a 26.4% decrease in non-remote betting, with remote betting (in addition to remote bingo and casino games) increasing its gross profits by 8.1%. Now, remote betting comprises 39.9% of the UK’s gambling market – by far the biggest share of the industry. The £2.4 billion generated by in-person betting looks paltry next to the virtual betting sector, which amassed a total £5.7 billion gross gambling yield in the 2019/20 financial year.
And it’s not just the UK where online betting has grown in popularity in recent years, with this trend also seen around the world, most substantially in the USA, where states began relaxing their online gambling laws in 2018. But why are so many people switching from casinos and bookies to phone apps?
Well, a major reason for this is the newfound accessibility, as punters can now take part in live betting from the comfort of their own home, or on the go. All major sportsbooks have their own dedicated apps where users can place a bet at any time they prefer, without being restricted to the opening hours of their local betting shop. This has also helped to attract new demographics to sports betting, with younger, more technologically savvy users placing a bet for the first time, and repeatedly returning to bet on their favorite teams.
In addition to remote betting, the online casino sector generates approximately £3.2 billion a year in the UK, eclipsing its bricks and mortar counterpart. One of the main factors in this is the wider variety of games punters can play online at any time of the day – similarly, online sports betting allows people to bet on more games around the world than punters would be able to in person.
The switch to online gambling has proved beneficial for the consumer, who is now less restricted about where to visit. Prior to the digital age, a punter would be restricted to whichever physical sportsbooks were located in their town, with limited ability to shop around to find better odds. Now, things have changed, and it’s no longer just a handful of sportsbooks dominating the industry, with a plethora of sites dedicated to finding the best odds from a wide variety of outlets. It’s never been easier to find the ideal sports book to place a bet with and ensure a maximum return on investment if you win.
Of course, the biggest sportsbooks are continuing to grow, and are seizing the opportunities that have arisen from the legalization of sports betting in the US. Major companies are launching into sponsorship deals with some of the country’s largest sports teams and are launching their own online platforms in the world’s fastest-growing online betting market. As of 2019, the worldwide sports betting market was estimated to be worth approximately $85 billion, with many predicting it to grow even further into the 2020s, with more US states legalizing the sector, and countries like India in talks to legalize and offer betting for the first time. There are still many untapped markets in the world, and in the next decade, it seems like the sector will expand to cover the vast majority of them.
The UK was one of the first countries to relax regulations prohibiting sports betting, and the 2005 Gambling Act helped pave the way for the dominance of online betting from the 2010’s onward. This added regulations to the online gambling sector for the first time, and ensured any operators with a “physical presence” in Britain were licensed by the gambling commission. However, these same rules and regulations weren’t applied to offshore operators – they weren’t governed by the same requirements but were still able to serve British consumers remotely.
The number of offshore betting sportsbooks has ensured Brits have a wider variety of choices when it comes to the number of games punters can bet on. Offshore betting sites are amongst the most popular operators in the UK due to how they increase accessibility to international games. Offshore providers are the go-to sites for betting on the NFL, or other overseas sporting leagues. Most offshore providers are still licensed, and will all carry notices on their websites ensuring the consumer of their license. Online betting has exploded in popularity in recent years and will only continue to do so in the coming decade. With the wide array of sports available to bet on, and the ease of access allowing punters to bet on the go, it’s no surprise that more people are going straight to their smartphones rather than a betting shop.