Great Britain online gross gambling yield hits £1.36bn in Q4

The rise in popularity of gambling in Great Britain has been illustrated by a set of figures recently released. Online gross gambling (GGY) reached £1.36bn in the fourth quarter of last year. The number of bets being placed and spins on casino games also reached a new record amount.

The figure of £1.36bn was published by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). They have been publishing such data on a quarterly basis since March 2019. The latest set of figures covers the three months from the start of this year to March 31.

It shows a 5% increase in GGY when compared to the same period in 2023. Last year saw a figure of £1.29bn reported, so there’s been a rise of £65m. £1.36bn is also higher than the amount recorded for Q3.

The UKGC said that one of the key reasons for the rise in GGY is an increase in the amount being gambled on slot games. A larger figure for real-event betting GGY has also made a significant contribution.

A key section of any UK online casino is its selection of slot games. Players are able to download apps and gamble on their favourite games. The slots section is often the first one that players head for after logging into their account.  They are attracted by the free spins casinos usually give new players for selected slots. Q4 saw slots GGY rise to £614m which is 11% higher than in the previous year. March was the busiest month of 2024 to date with the total yield being £220.4m.

The number of spins rose to 21.9bn which was 12% higher than in the same period last year.

Total number of spins in Q4 climbed 12% to more than 21.9 billion. Players gambling on slots for over an hour rose by 2% to 9.5m. However, the average session for players did fall to 77 minutes. Of those trying their luck on slot games, around 6% had sessions of over an hour.

Will these figures be repeated later in the year? From September, the maximum stake for online slot games is going to be reduced. At present, there is no maximum limit and players can lose a great deal in a very short time if they go through a bad patch.

Players aged between 18 and 24 will have their maximum stake per spin reduced to just £2. Older gamblers will also be affected by the changes with the maximum stake due to be £5.

When similar action was taken against the gambling machines seen in retail bookmakers, it led to shops being closed and redundancies having to be made. Now that maximum stakes are being imposed online, a reduction in GGY is again expected.

Real event betting yield for Q4 rose to £565m. This was 2% higher than in the previous year. The number of real-event bets laid fell by 6% to approximately 923m.  There was a slight 1% increase in the number of average monthly accounts.

Again, March was a good month for the UK gambling industry with the number of active accounts at 2.8m with total bets of 388.3m and a total GGY of £233.8m. Online casino GGY was £53.9m in March with the total for Q4 at £147.4m.

Playing poker online remains popular and the Q4 GGY was £15.1m. Esports accounted for £4.3m and virtual betting £10.5m.

While online betting continued to grow in popularity, it wasn’t the same for the land-based market. There was a 3% fall for licensed betting operators (LBOs) with a total GGY of £568m.

When breaking down that figure, the most popular way of spending money isn’t betting on horse racing or football. £288.9m was spent on the gambling machines that are in the shops but that was 1.1% down from the previous year. Over-the-counter betting totalled £152.5m with the self-service betting terminals accounting for £126.4m.

There was also a fall in the number of spins and bets made in Q4. That fell by 1% to 3.30bn. Of all the bets and spins made during the quarter, 3.09bn were on machines. The number of sessions recorded was 23.7m with over an hour being spent on them during a session at 587,051.

It’s not just the new maximum stake limits for slots that could affect future GGY totals. There are also due to be measures taken to reduce spin speeds and the banning of autoplays. Stricter affordability checks are also on their way and the fear is that could lead to gamblers moving to the unregulated and unlicensed black market.