In the past decade, the gambling scene in the United Kingdom has been evolving rapidly and with more virtual casinos, bingo and poker sites, the sector continues growing.
Back in 2009, the income from remote gambling was estimated at hardly £817m which is a very insignificant number, compared to the latest revenue of £4.5bn at the end of 2018. While the bingo industry was seriously contributing to these numbers, recent political and financial moderations have impacted the online bingo scene in the United Kingdom.
In 2017, there were some serious changes concerning online bingo. As there were new rules about the design and content, the taxes, the advertising policy and the bingo patterns, many bingo sites were hit by the changes and this affected the overall industry.
Overall Growth of the Gambling Industry in the UK
According to bingoplay.co.uk the number of online bingo players in the UK is roughly around 3.5 million. No one knew that with the introduction of the first online bingo site in 1996, so many players will contribute to the growth of this industry. While the launching of bingo websites has led to many land-based bingo halls closing, numerous players have found online bingo a lot more convenient and fun.
As years past, virtual bingo continues growing and in 2018, the number of interactive bingo players has jumped from 20.4% to 39.8%. In fact, the entire gambling industry has shown an increase with a gross total gambling yield (GGY) of £14.4bn between April 2018 and March 2019. Compared to the same period of the previous year, there has been a growth of 0.3%. As for the remote gambling sector specifically, the total GGY is estimated to be £5.3bn which is 0.6% lower than the number during the previous year.
Even though the gambling industry has been prospering, its online sector has been showing a serious decrease, partially related to new bingo sites losing their popularity. Due to the changes in gambling laws, a huge part of the remote gambling sector was negatively affected. While the total GGY of the gambling industry in the UK for the period of April 2018 – March 2019 was showing an increase, the market share of the remote casino, bingo and betting sector was 37%. Compared to the same period of the previous year, there was a 0.1% drop.
Changes That Affected the Online Gambling Industry in the UK
In 2017, there were some changes to the gambling laws in the UK which, although were postponed for the second half of the year, still came into effect in August. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which is the tax authority in the UK, has made certain changes concerning bonuses offered by gambling sites. According to the new law, operators were obligated to pay a fee of 15% on all free or discounted bets. This naturally affected the so-called No Deposit offers that many virtual gaming sites often used to offer to their new members.
Another law change was the one which forbids UK companies to impose surcharges for payments carried through credit/debit cards or services such as PayPal and Apple Pay. This meant that virtual casino, bingo and betting sites which offer their products to UK-based players and punters will not be allowed to charge any fees for payments made via the aforementioned methods.
These changes have impacted the online bingo sector tremendously and this can be clearly seen with a large number of bingo sites closing at the end of 2017. By the end of the year, the number of active bingo websites is 421 with 40 sites being launched in 2017 and 55 websites closing. As you can see, the number of bingo sites that ceased to offer bingo games to online players is larger than the websites which have newly opened after the drastic law changes in 2017.
Another law that affected the online bingo industry is the one concerning the design of bingo websites. According to the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, there were 25,000 children aged between 11 and 16 who were reported to have gambling problems. This is why bingo operators were forbidden to use cartoon-like characters for their advertisements on their own sites or third-party media outlets. As research shows, 53% of the virtual gambler in the UK were prompted to bet online thanks to advertisements. Taking this into consideration, you can see how the new amendments to the gambling law will affect the popularity of bingo sites.
Unfortunately, the tendency of the past two years can also be seen in 2019 with even more betting sites closing and the virtual bingo revenue continuing to decrease. However, online gaming operators strive to be more efficient and improve their income which shows a slow but steady growth with a remote gambling revenue of over £6bn in 2019. This is mostly due to online sports betting, though, as virtual casino and bingo sites have a smaller contribution to the increase.
The future of bingo websites in the UK is not necessarily dark as there are still many new websites launching in 2019. Despite that, the taxes and strict regulations may be difficult to overcome and the bingo scene in the UK may still not show huge growth at the end of 2019. As there are no longer No Deposit bonuses and Welcome Offers are changed, fewer players are tempted to join new bingo websites and play online. This, naturally, makes things a lot harder for the bingo sector and the overall remote gambling industry in the UK.