A short overview of UK Gambling market

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The Gambling Act 2005 (GA 2005) is the basis for all regulation of gambling activities in Great Britain. The enactment came fully into force in September 2007, and covered arcades, betting, bingo, casinos, gaming machines, society lotteries. It also created and set the functions and objectives of the Gambling Commission as the principal regulator.

Initially, the GA 2005 brought in a licensing requirement for online operators based in Great Britain. Subsequently, in 2014, the law was amended to cover all offshore gambling companies who offer online gambling to customers in Great Britain.

Among the significant changes that GA 2005 brought in is allowing the advertising of all gambling products subject to new controls. Before the enactment, only bingo and lottery adverts had been permitted on TV and radio.

The law created a growth environment for gambling sector which is evident from statistics released by the Gambling Commission annually (April 2020 to March 2021):

  • £12.7 billion – Total Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) of the Great Britain gambling industry
  • £8.5 billion – Total GGY of the gambling industry in Great Britain (excluding all reported lotteries)
  • 8,625 – Total number of premises in Great Britain
  • 6,462 – Total number of betting shops in Great Britain
  • £6.9 billion – Total GGY for Remote Betting, Bingo and Casino Sector
  • £1.7 billion – Total GGY for Land-based Sectors (Arcades, Betting, Bingo and Casino) including gaming machines
  • £907.5 million – Total GGY for gaming machines in Great Britain (excludes those requiring only a local authority permit
  • £1.7 billion – Primary Contributions (to good causes) from The National Lottery
  • £401.9 million – Contributions to good causes from large society lotteries
  • 2,442 – Gambling operators in the market
  • 3,372 – Gambling activities licenced

The UK has one of the biggest gambling markets in the world, generating a profit of £14.2 billion in 2020 according to the Gambling Commission. Recent research has shown that harms associated with gambling are wide-ranging. These include not only harms to the individual gambler but their families, close associates and wider society.

With the penetration of smartphones, gambling has changed enormously since the GA 2005 came into force.

The smartphones gave opportunities to gamble online almost anywhere and at any time along with fast-paced innovation in product design and advertising. In this background, the UK government has constituted a review of GA 2005 in December 2020. However, due to political developments including the recent resignation of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of UK, the report was never finalised till date.