How online gambling is changing the UK casino industry

Casinos are an important buzzword in the UK in 2015 and the number of people using casino games in the country is unprecedented. The relaxation of gambling laws almost 10 years ago has given much more free access to real casinos and online casinos , resulting in a more open and responsible gaming industry that is much more accessible to the average player.

And it’s not just online casinos that are currently experiencing a boom – their real counterparts are also enjoying unprecedented interest. While British customers were previously forced to visit smoky basement or darkened backyard casinos to play their favorite games, today’s British casinos can act much more in public.

From easier membership in offline casinos to betting counters with fixed odds for bookmakers on the commercial street, offline gaming is more accessible than ever.
But what impact is the boom in online casinos having on real casinos and how are they making the transition? Using the official statistics from the Gambling Commission, we can see that:

More recreational players use both online and offline casinos
A boom in television advertising “normalizes” casino gambling and attracts new players
A transition between online and live loyalty programs encourages gambling traffic
The rising economy has more impact on UK gambling practices than overall participation

While casinos were once the prerogative of ruling classes, they are now entertainment venues where you are more likely to eat and watch a show than stand at the roulette tables.

Besides that, casino games have never been so accessible. There are FOBTs in the middle of the city. They offer slot machines and roulette without a mandatory membership, even if British casinos themselves have abolished membership (and sometimes the dress code) so that everyone can go in and place a bet.

At the same time, the latest 3D slot machines and roulette games are available on your desktop PC or smartphone with just one click.

The growth in UK casinos may be best illustrated by Aspers Casino, the first major casino to be built under the relaxed laws that followed the 2005 Gambling Act. The casino occupies the upper floor of the Westfield shopping center in Stratford, East London, offers fantastic views over London Olympic Park and attracts 140,000 visitors each month.

I think that is due to a number of factors, said Bea Stevens, general manager at Aspers. There has been a change in legislation since 2005, increased acceptance of gambling and the recognition that casinos offer a great evening with a wide range of entertainment.

They provide us with a unique live gaming experience that online providers cannot achieve.

After the relaxation of the laws introduced by the last Labor government, casinos are no longer a terrifying no-go area: they are entertainment temples where you can take a partner and throw away the fancy stuff. Even the previous requirement to show a photo ID at casino facilities has been relaxed so that customers can stop by after a hard day’s shopping.
These relaxed laws work wonders for UK casino business with increasing stakes and dropping and winning numbers.

Visitor numbers to casinos in the UK have grown rapidly since the late 2000s, with an increase of over 3.7 million live casino visitors in just four years.
According to the Gambling Commission, the proportion of respondents who played in a live casino increased from 84% in 2013 to 98% in 2015.

UK casino traffic (in millions)
Visitor numbers of the casinos
Source: Gambling Commission

It is not surprising, given the additional visitors, that sales have also increased.
The latest numbers voluntarily provided by the 148 UK casino providers showed the following:

The drop in table games (the amount of money exchanged for chips at the casino) across the UK increased by around £ 40m between 2014 and 2015, although this trend has increased at times.
Home profits (basically profits minus drop) across the UK also increased.
Slot machine fans and electronic roulette players also saw a high overall increase in slot machines. The average numbers rose from around 2500 in 2008 to almost 3000 in 2014.
UK casinos drop (GBP amount exchanged for casino chips)
Casino drop at offline casinos
Source: Gambling Commission

Home win (casino revenue in GBP)
house profit
Source: Gambling Commission

Average number of slot machines
Average number of slot machines
Source: Gambling Commission

Just like real casinos loosened their restrictions, so did online relatives. For every product over the past few years there has been a steady increase in online players. While 9.7% of the general adult population still used online gambling in 2008 , this number rose to 15.9% in 2014 .

Total UK online gambling participation
Total UK online gambling participation
Source: Gambling Commission

Interestingly, the number of UK customer accounts (defined as accounts under which a customer has played within the past 12 months) has remained almost the same since 2008, with around 16 million accounts from 2008-2009 and 18 million in 2014 .
Actually, both the number of live casino players and the number of online casino players are increasing.

Participation in online casino games
Participation in online casino games
Source: Gambling Commission

Despite the number of accounts used, online casino revenue has increased, with online slot machines collecting £ 86m from 2009 to 2010 and a whopping £ 366m in 2014 ( according to the Gambling Commission ).


Online casino sales in 2010




Online casino sales in 2011
A few interesting findings can be drawn from this data:

The increase in slot machine sales indicates that customers haven’t been able to get enough of them in recent years. It’s the reason for so many commercials that offer free spins on registration, and their popularity is easy to understand. Slot machines are easy to play – maybe easier than any other casino game.
Two other factors are driving this growth, namely their low stakes and the huge size of the possible progressive jackpots associated with them. A larger number of online players means higher contributions to “pooled” progressive jackpots, which can regularly reach several million pounds.

In 2015 alone, slot machine players won $ 7.5 million in jackpots, although many of the key games are rolled back to £ 1m after winning. In 2012, a British player won a record £ 5.8 million jackpot when playing online on a progressive jackpot slot machine .

There is also a better assortment of slot machines available online since limited usable space is not a problem at an online casino. In addition, the RTPs (the percentages of theoretical, long-term “returns to the player”) are higher online. While slot machines run in real casinos in the UK with an RTP of around 85%, this value can rise to 97% in online slot machines.

Does television advertising affect your gaming habits? Certainly not. It’s not that easy to be influenced, is it? Many of us would like to believe that we are immune to the commercials on television, but the numbers suggest the opposite: an increase in television advertising in the UK correlated with an increase in online gambling.

Private television in the UK is now full of spots that encourage us to try gambling, but it hasn’t always been that way. There was a time when only television spots for the National Lottery, football toto and bingo were allowed.

The 2005 gambling law brought about a turning point, and since the laws were relaxed, television advertising for casinos has continued to grow . If you turn on your TV now, you won’t have to wait long to see spots for online casinos, poker rooms, and sports betting sites.

What number are we talking about? Well, between 2005 and 2012 the number of spots shown doubled , while the percentage of spots related to gambling increased from 0.5% to 4.1%.

So it’s about more spots, more forms of gambling and a longer period of time. It will come as no surprise that these constant messages have had an impact on the amount we want to wager.

Gambling spots on British television
Gambling spots on British television
Source: Gambling Commission

What comes next for gamblers in UK still remains to be seen, but you can be sure that whatever developments that will happen in the future will be brought to you from us here.