UKGC’s May stats reflect retail reality

The UK’s retail landscape has continued to suffer over recent months with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) reporting a 1.5 per cent decrease in the number of shops since March 2018.

As part of the biannual statistics published by the regulator, the total number of betting shops has fallen to 8423, while licensed arcades and bingo premises have also dropped in numbers by 5.3 and 1.1 per cent respectively.

These declines reflect the adjustments which have been undertaken by UK retail bookmakers in a bid to offset the impact of the recent FOBT judgement.

FTSE250 William Hill was the first bookmaker to confirm betting shop closures, declaring during its full-year 2018 results that it had committed to shutting down 900 stores across the UK.

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes has recently stated that it has identified approximately 1,000 betting shops which could shut their doors for good during 2019.

Ben Haden, programme director for Industry Insight commented on the recent UKGC statistics: “Despite the marginal decline across the wider gambling industry, the online gambling sector continues to grow. Our role as regulator will continue to see us working to raise standards right across the industry.”

Positive news for the industry sees the UKGC report Gross gambling yield (GGY) for the UK’s online gaming sector had jumped by 2.9 per cent over the year to £5.6bn in the 12 months to September 2018.

Total GGY for the UK has amounted to £14.5bn during the twelve months, noting a 0.4 per cent decrease from April 2017 – March 2018.

Haden added: “Following our comprehensive review of the online gambling sector in 2018, this year we have implemented new rules to strengthen age and ID verification checks and we’ve also been working with partners in financial institutions to develop the role they can play to protect vulnerable consumers.

“Last month we published the new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms which has a renewed focus on plans to widen research, take a preventative approach to gambling harms, assess treatment provision, embed a culture of evaluation, and encourage industry to collaborate to make gambling safer.’’

Market share for the remote sector in the UK jumped to 39 per cent between October 2017 and September 2018, recording a 1.2 per cent increase from April 2017-March 2018.

Meanwhile contributions to good causes from The National Lottery had also increased to £1.5bn, a 0.3 per cent growth from the previous period.

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