Ongoing Trends: UKGC Releases Last Year’s State of the Market Report As The National Lottery Reports Huge Growth

Author Thomas Wolf
June 4, 2020 3 min read

The results are in from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission’s bi-yearly survey of its native market, this time from October 2018 to September 2019. There’s not much good news for land-based properties—but online casinos showed strong growth.

Of course, all these figures will be out of date now as the international markets are dealing with the unprecedented effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, these reports are still useful for determining market trends, and some of them will only be strengthened by public and government responses to the spread of the pneumonia-causing disease.

Online casinos pulled in £3.9 billion in revenue throughout the year—an increase of 3.9% on the previous year’s income. This section of the market was also expected to grow further as millions of people remained inside during the nationwide emergency lockdown imposed upon the UK on March 23rd, 2020.

Remote bingo sites also saw an increase in customers last year, which has likely continued throughout 2020, as popular bingo halls have been closed since the pandemic hit. They recorded an income of £198 million—up 12.5% on the previous year’s figure.

Despite agreeing to cease nearly all advertising on both radio and TV during this difficult time, online revenues are still expected to see modest growth this year.

A Tale of Two Sectors

Land-based properties and betting shops did not fare so well in last year’s figures, with revenues falling 13% year-on-year. These are also the companies most likely to suffer from the lockdown.

Before the disease arrived on British shores in early February, betting shop giants like William Hill, Coral, and Ladbrokes were already voicing their frustrations.

Increased regulatory pressures, including the massive reduction in Fixed Odds Betting Terminals stakes from £100 to just £2, saw the number of betting shops on UK high streets fall by over 2,000 to 7,315—nearly 12% down from the previous year.

Interestingly, football betting revenues also fell by 24% compared to 2018. However, that was a World Cup year, in which the English national team reached the semifinals, so that was to be expected. Operators may have been hoping to recoup some of that over the rest of the year, but the football season was suspended.

All this gloom, despite the gains for the online vertical, meant a fair few job cuts in the gambling industry in the UK. The whole sector’s employee count was down 4% to just over 98,000.

£200 Million Boost

One business that won’t be making anyone redundant any time soon is Camelot. The National Lottery operator (the UK’s only nationwide lottery) posted record revenues in its latest report—from a slightly more up-to-date March 2019-20.

The Lottery brought in an extra £624 million in sales compared to the previous year’s figure, bringing its total income to $2.4 billion. This is the first time it has broken the £2 billion mark in a year.

Much of that growth has been attributed to online sales of both its core lottery games and its scratchcards. Revenues online were up 34% on previous years.

One of the key features of the National Lottery is its charitable status. Ninety percent of its profits go to community schemes—not only supporting those in physical or mental need but also providing arts and sports funding for poorer communities.

“Thanks to this crisis relief package, hundreds of millions of pounds in vital funding has been repurposed to help those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic—providing much-needed assistance for thousands of projects that are in desperate need of funding during this time,”

Camelot Chairman, Sir Hugh Robertson.

The National Lottery also awarded record prizes in the last 12 months, including the UK’s biggest ever lottery winner, who anonymously claimed a cool £170 million jackpot back in October 2019.

Author Thomas Wolf


Thomas Wolf

409 articles

Thomas Wolf is our editor in chief. With an extensive background in online gambling (both working for casino operators and game studios) as well as an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, he's a proper authority on online casinos. When not running the day to day operations or reviewing new operators Thomas is a blackjack aficionado with some seriously big wins recorded at land-based casinos in both Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau.
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