Online Dip As UK Betting Shops Reopen

September 22, 2020

- Grant Whittington

UK betting shops have started to reopen in their droves - which definitely predicts better days ahead to an industry still very much rooted in retail after having only recently begun to find its mobile feet.

But since every scale has a tipping point, the same success unfortunately cannot be claimed by online gambling – at least not the levels of incredible performance the industry has witnessed ever since retail sports betting establishment first got shuttered around mid-March.

Historically a sterling performance driver, online gaming hasn’t exactly at any point in the past teetered precariously on the edge of bankruptcy. But with that having been said, the latest figures do hit a number of misconceptions and even a couple of conspiracy theories right out the park.

Not The Monster After All

Figures recently released by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) practically show online gaming declines being at play ever since June – which also happened to be the same month that saw a long-awaited return to in-person retail sports betting. Poker, virtual sports and esports all plummeted the minute live sporting events started to show a recovery.

Interesting to note too is that across all online sectors, including online slots, other online casino products, virtual betting, and eSports, when considering online bets wagered, only actual “real-event” sports posted notable improvements. Slots, also notably, remained practically flat all throughout. All other verticals – barring online slots and online bets wagered on real-world sports events – reported declines in revenue performance.

Revealing Results

Though month-to-month comparisons have proved nearly impossible due to UK betting shops having been closed until around mid-June, some other sectors offered quite a bit of insight into what customers were most interested in terms of engagement. Wagering conducted in-person, i.e. over the counter, during July alone generated £62.5 million, self-service betting stations generated £23.1 million for the same period, and gaming machines (retail) brough in £81.6 million.

And since only real-event sports posted a positive growth curve when considering the actual number of online bets wagered, it’s now become quite clear that previous expectations regarding the increased risk of addiction and overspending thought to have been associated with online betting has all throughout been completely overstated.

The Present Isn’t What It Was

According to the data discovered by the UKGC, only 2.7 per cent of UK residents who didn’t gamble before the global health disaster struck, ended up resorting to online gambling as a boredom-busting activity. Not even so-called “forced hibernation” proved pushy enough a driver to create a crisis previously assumed right around the very next corner and forever hanging precariously in a tremendously dangerous mental illness balance.

Add to all of the above the finding that two-thirds of all “forced by crisis” online gamblers returned to retail products the minute the hiatus got lifted, with many even returning to a former “non-gambling” status, and it suddenly becomes overbearingly clear that online gambling has been unnecessarily vilified all throughout – and quite without fact or reason.

Debunking The Online Myth

So much then for a widely propagated myth evangelised by the UK media leading many to fear a mass online gambling migration resulting in a national disaster second only to some would say Brexit, others the great London fire. Images of Brits blowing their monthly rent and two-thirds of their food allowance on money-guzzling computers connected to predatory online casino operators now seem worlds away and nothing more than the fruits of a stupendously paranoid imagination.

Britons are apparently nowhere near the poster children of online gambling irresponsibility “we” not too long ago still assumed them to be.

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