U.K. Study: 5 Percent of Bettors Account for Most of Yield

In the U.K., a new study says a fraction of gamblers account for more than 70 percent of gaming revenues in the country. The study looked at 140,000 players from mid-July 2018 to June 2019.

A new study from the U.K.’s National Centre for Social Research at the University of Liverpool says just 5 percent of online gambling accounts represent more than 70 percent of British betting and gaming gross gambling yield. The study, commissioned by the problem gambling group GambleAware claims that 0.7 percent of accounts used for betting and 1.2 percent of gaming accounts sampled lost £5,000 (US$7,000) over the course of a year.

The research, conducted by Professors David Forrest and Ian McHale, looked at 140,000 iGaming accounts between July 2018 and June 2019, reported iGamingBusiness.com.

It found that 85 percent of online bettors spent less than £200 per year on betting, and 90 percent of accounts showed either an overall win or loss of less than £500. A small number of accounts were responsible for a very large portion of overall losses, with 4 percent of players losing more than £500 in a single session. According to the researchers, that’s about 60,000 betting accounts and 47,000 gaming accounts nationally.

Four percent of players received some sort of social responsibility interaction, usually by email. This included 36 percent of customers who spend more than £2,000, with a smaller number—0.8 percent—getting a cautionary phone call.

The biggest losers were men in their 40s. Football and horse racing were the most popular sports for betting in terms of accounts playing bet and betting yield. The majority of gaming accounts and spend were focused on slots.

“This research was able to analyze and assess an unprecedented source of information on how people in Great Britain gamble and opens up numerous opportunities to further understand people’s gambling habits. These interim findings are just the first stage and future research will provide a greater opportunity to understand the risk factors associated with gambling behavior,” the report stated.

A spokesperson for the U.K. Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said the data was important, but was gathered before the BGC was created in 2019. As a result, it said, the British gambling industry had improved its player safety measures significantly since the dates measured.

“The data in this report was collected before the BGC came into being and so does not take account of the work we have done to raise standards,” the spokesperson said. “This includes the whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sport before the 9pm watershed, ensuring 20 per cent of all broadcast advertising is now safer gambling messages, significantly increasing funding for research, education and treatment, implementing a credit card ban (excluding National Lottery) and introducing a new games design code of conduct, which has led to the slowing down of spin speeds and the banning of several gaming features.

“This report acknowledges that technology now enables betting companies to see where customers are starting to display markers of harm, meaning those at risk are now subject to enhanced checks and interventions. It also shows that a large number of customers are taking advantage of safer gambling tools like setting deposit limits, which we encourage.

“None of these new changes apply to the unsafe, unregulated and growing online black market online, but the BGC will use the government’s review of gambling to identify further best practice and changes going forward to ensure our work on promoting safer gambling continues.”

For example, BGC members have pledged to adhere to standards to keep younger audiences from viewing gambling ads. Its members have also funded a £10 million national education program developed by gambling prevention charities YGAM and GamCare.

It also supports an increase a measure to raise the purchasing age-limit on National Lottery products from 16 to 18.

Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “Our members rightly have a zero-tolerance approach on this issue, which is why we have welcomed the Government’s decision to increase the minimum age for playing the National Lottery to 18.

“For our part, we have introduced a raft of new online protections for young people and taken action to reduce their exposure to gambling advertising, and our work with YGAM and GamCare is also delivering results, with progress during the first year of the partnership far exceeding expectations.

“We are making good progress,” Dugher said, “but we are committed to doing even more as part of our ongoing drive to deliver change and raise standards.”