Ruling the waves: Britain driving global preference for online gaming

YouGov report online gaming
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Solidified by pandemic lockdowns over the last 18 months, Britain’s increasing preference for online gaming over retail makes it a nation driving the global trend – with 63 percent of gamblers globally preferring online to offline, according to YouGov.


Seventy percent of Brits that have gambled online in the last year prefer it to offline gambling, according to a YouGov report, with Britain ranking the second highest in this category after India.

Many gamblers in Britain will have turned to online gambling over retail gambling in the last 12 months due to lockdowns that closed all retail gambling establishments, and the report shows that only 30 percent of them would have preferred to be in a bingo hall, AGC or casino. A much larger percent, however, were happier online – perhaps influenced by pandemic anxiety – but also by factors that have been fuelling this trend since before any lockdowns began. The reduction of FOBT maximum stakes by the government, while providing no regulatory boost to less controversial retail products, will have no doubt pushed certain retail players online. Online game developers have also had many more opportunities to innovate than manufacturers of retail games, with regulations around stakes, prizes, and technical limitations all holding the retail sector back in different ways. While these particular market features may be unique to Britain, the rest of the world is seeing a similar increase in online gambling preference, with lotteries being one of the biggest influencing factors globally.

“Among those that have gambled in any form online in the past 12 months, and driven largely by lottery and sports betting, 63 percent of gamblers globally now prefer online to offline,” read the YouGov report. “That level of preference is driven by countries such as Great Britain and Italy and an apparent greater level of acceptance of online gambling as a leisure activity.”

With the highest uptake of online gambling, it was no surprise to see Britain on the other end of the spectrum when it came to the questions such as ‘are gambling restrictions too tight?’ and ‘do firms take problem gambling seriously enough?’. Indeed, only 6 percent of Brits said yes to the former, and 66 percent said no to the latter, opinions no doubt fuelled by the furor raised around online gambling during the pandemic. Unfortunately, while retail operators continue to get tarred with the same brush as online operators, these opinions will also affect the retail sector – which needs less regulation, not more, if it has any hope of winning back those players lost to the allure of online.

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