Contraction across the board was the key take-away from the regulator’s latest assessment of the size and scale of the gambling industry…and that was before the age of Corona. The Gambling Commission’s statistics through to September 2019 are now out.
The latest industry data compiled by the Gambling Commission shows that the gambling industry was already entering a period of decline prior to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Back-dated numbers for the period from October 2018 through to September last year covered the institution of the new £2 stake limit on B2 gaming terminals – which resulted in widespread shop closures for landed betting chains.
The new figures from the Commission show that the lost business on FOBTs failed to feed through entirely into other gambling revenue streams: Britain’s gross gambling yield fell by half a percentile to £14.3bn.
That decrease was substantially more marked once Lottery products were removed from the equation, with combined landed and remote takings down just shy of two per cent to £10.5bn.
Meanwhile, the staff rosters of gambling firms took an even more substantial hit, with the total number of employees within the trade down a marked 4.4 per cent to 98,174.
But it was the total number of gambling premises which suffered the most drastic reduction, with the shuttering of (primarily) betting shops from April 2019 onwards setting the number of landed licensed premises tumbling 9.6 per cent to 9,745. Still, as of last September the betting industry remained by far the largest retail gambling presence on the British high street, with 7,315 shops giving it 75 per landed market-share.
For the arcade sector, there was steady momentum with a GGY of £462m, 5.9 percent up on figures which are oddly charted across the years. For clarity and coherent comparisons, the Commission scores low – that £25.8m increase in arcade GGY is not a precise comparative pitting the period October 2018-September 2019 against April 2018-March 2019. More pertinent for the arcade industry is probably that fact that in four and a half years, it has experienced just a gentle growth in yield from £413m to £462m, ref lecting more the absence of an effective Triennial Review.
With respect to machine revenue, total GGY fell 11.8 per cent to £2.5bn: with B2 takings almost slashed in half (by 46.4 per cent) to £624m. The data also showed an uptake (of 18.5 per cent) in B3 coin-drop, but this data point should serve as little cause for celebration for the AGC sector: as betting shops were swift to swap out B2 content for B3 equivalents. A shifting of diminishing sands is no cause for celebration.
Notwithstanding, the steady growth of the remote sector was seen to have continued apace, with online GGY almost going head-to-head with machine takings, totalling a cool £2.1bn (up 4.4 per cent on the PCP).
The performance of online bingo was, perhaps, one of the only truly encouraging take-aways from a fairly grim set of (pre-Corona, lest we not forget) industry health stats. Indeed, the new and expanding online divisions of established landed bingo brands enjoyed a healthy upswing (of 12.5 per cent) throughout last year: with the Commission detailing total revenue of £198m.
THE INDUSTRY VIEW – JOHN WHITE BACTA
“The overall decline in gaming machine revenues is due entirely to the B2 stake cut in bookmakers. The uplift in B3 income is because that is the category of machine that replaced the B2.
Some of the lost income appears to have left the industry.
The uptick in B3 income in AGCs is more likely attributable to capital investment in product and venue. It’s very difficult to draw any conclusions from the first data set since the cut took effect.
We have in our draft submission to the Gambling Review a request for a return to the Triennial. The arguments are powerful. We are engaged with our lobbying network in both Government and Shadow Government discussing potential options for gambling reform. Indeed today we were speaking with the Shadow DCMS SoS about the Review.”