More people are using websites and apps to play at casinos instead of going to physical gambling locations, in another instance of the digital world increasingly taking over and reshaping the way we live our lives.
Taking the UK as an example, as it’s a place where a great many people enjoy betting and gambling, both online and offline, and the latest figures show that online gambling rose significantly. Results show that larger numbers of people used apps and websites to play their games of choice, with many using live casino lists to find what’s right for them.
Data from the UK Gambling Commission, the regulator overseeing all betting and gambling activities in the country, including the National Lottery, reveals that in the 12 months from April 2017 to March 2018, total gambling was worth £14.4 billion, a 4.2% increase on the same period a year earlier. Online gambling’s slice of that very large punting pie amounted to £5.3 billion, the figures show, representing a hefty 12.8% rise on the previous 12 months. Overall, when all betting and gambling is taken into account, gambling via websites and apps soared by 37.1%.
What’s Driving the Online Gambling Rise?
Clearly, the factors influencing people who like to gamble and who previously would have headed out to a shop or casino are cost and convenience. Just as online shopping has vastly taken over because you can order what you want in a few clicks and don’t have to spend half the day driving to shops, finding and paying for parking and walking around for ages, being able to bet or gamble from the comfort of your own home has big attractions.
This, industry analysts say, is coupled with a marked increase in the number of online gambling apps and websites that let you play from your laptop or smartphone — and the availability of better digital technology that provides an enhanced online gambling environment, one in which you can play in real time and often interact with hosts and other players. There’s also the benefit of playing with anonymity, as no one will know what you are doing — unlike playing poker, blackjack or roulette at a physical casino, where everyone can see you.
And as the number of people gambling online grows, so too does the amount of operators in this fast-growing and lucrative sector. The Commission had granted a total of 888 online gambling licences to firms up to the end of March last year, an increase from 780 12 months earlier. Those with the largest share of the UK online gambling market (41%) were based in the country, while online gambling firms with headquarters outside the UK were located in Malta (21% market share), Gibraltar and the Isle of Man (7% each).
An Online Gambling Level Playing Field
All this comes as the UK regulator has embarked on a mission to clean up the online gambling market and weed out any rogue operators. Last year, for instance, the government agency introduced a raft of new rules — and has since dished out hefty fines — making it harder for online gambling companies to engage in misleading advertising, glamorise gambling or target it towards young people, as well as new ways to safeguard players’ money and how and when winnings should be paid out.
Just this month, the Commission unveiled another set of new rules, aimed at protecting children from online gambling and making gambling via apps and websites fairer and safer for all. Commission chief Neil McArthur said: “These changes will protect children and the vulnerable from gambling-related harm, and reduce the risk of crime linked to gambling. They will also make gambling fairer by helping consumers collect their winnings without unnecessary delay.
“Britain’s online gambling market is the largest regulated market in the world and we want to make sure it is the safest and the fairest. Today’s changes follow our review of online gambling and our ongoing widespread regulatory action into the online sector. We will keep using our powers to raise standards for consumers.”