Several years of decline recorded in one summer for retail gambling

retail gambling decline
Share this article

Before Covid-19 retail gambling was in slow decline, but with lockdown and restrictions giving online gambling even more competitive advantages, the amusements, non-remote bingo, and non-remote betting sectors have all lost more in the summer of 2020 than they have for several years prior.


Retail gambling experienced several years worth of decline between April 2020 and September 2020 as statistics from the Gambling Commission show a sector devastated by Covid-19.

The figures, which cover a six month period rather than the usual 12 month period, reveal an amusements industry with 25,000 less machines in operation than during the year from April 2019 to March 2020, when lockdown restrictions first began.

The Commission’s unconventional reporting method makes it difficult to directly compare gross gambling yield (GGY) from before and after the pandemic began, however from April 2019 to March 2020, the GGY of ‘Arcades’ – adult gaming centres and licensed family entertainment – was £426m. In half that time during Covid-19, the industry earned only 25 percent of that sum, and that’s during its busiest and most profitable period of the calendar. While providing unhelpful data for year-on-year comparisons, the Gambling Commission also acknowledges that the statistics do not include “estimates where returns are late or not yet due”

“With the arrival of COVID-19, the various lockdown rules and restrictions throughout 2020 have brought about significant changes that have impacted on the availability of product and sales channels for the gambling industry. This mainly involved land-based sectors of the industry, but the restrictions also affected live sporting events which would have potential to impact on remote operators,” said the Commission.

“A consequence of this is we have not included estimates where returns have either been late or not yet due as we would not have confidence in their accuracy. We accept that the impact of this may be some figures which understate actual totals.”

Keeping that in mind, the statistics also show the total GGY of the gambling industry in Great Britain, excluding lotteries, to be £4.0bn between April 2020 and September 2020, with the amusement industry making up a mere 2.5 percent with £105m. The non-remote bingo sector followed closely behind with £92m GGY, with nonremote betting contributing over six times more to total GGY with £629.3m. Almost half of that came from B3 machines, which earned betting shops £303m GGY during the period, with the same category earning AGCs £64m and bingo clubs £30m.

All in all, it was a summer of loss for retail gambling. By September 2020, the total number of retail gambling premises had fallen 10.8 percent from March 2020, with the number of AGCs reducing from 1,451 to 1,390. This represents a bigger loss in one summer of Covid-19 than in the last three years combined for the sector, highlighting the devastating impact that lockdown and restrictions have had on Britain’s already struggling high streets.

Share this article