Over the past three years, the gambling industry has faced many obstacles to its daily processes, causing reduced incomes and systemic problems across the whole industry.

However, many people do not see this as a negative impact.

Gambling can have a massive toll on human life with severe consequences, due in part to how the industry operates. According to a YouGov study in 2020, as many as 2.7% of people in Great Britain, or 1.4 million people, were considered ‘problem’ gamblers, while another 3.8%, 2.2 million people were ‘at-risk’ gamblers.

The dangers of gambling

There are up to 496 gambling-related suicides in England every year, according to a 2023 Office for Health Improvement and Disparities report. Additional research from a Swedish professor found that people suffering from gambling disorders are 15 times more likely to take their lives.

The power of the gambling industry

The gambling sector is a huge industry, totalling a whopping £15.1bn ($18.92bn) in gross annual profit. There are 76,000 people employed in the sector and almost 6,000 betting shops across the country.

As the standard of UK sport is one the highest in the world, the industry is a major source of foreign direct investment into the UK. This means that a total ban on gambling in the UK is unlikely on two fronts. Firstly, massive fines will have very little impact on the operations of a large gambling business. This can be seen with William Hill, which saw record profits in 2021 despite facing the largest ever UK gambling fine of £22.2m. Secondly, the government sees major FDI and tax earnings from the gambling industry and would be scared to lose this income.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

What is the government doing?

Affordability checks are in the news currently, with gambling companies debating that they are inappropriate and discriminatory.

In 2021, the Gambling Commission mandated that bookmakers must assess customer affordability, but this only became government policy in April 2023 when the gambling white paper set out proposals for financial risk checks. These are structured in two tiers, with the first check kicking in at a net spend of just £125 over 30 days or £500 in a year, which, in theory, would prevent punters from betting more than £1.37 per day.

Betting companies and the industries that heavily rely on betting (such as horseracing) have criticised these checks, with the British Horseracing Authority estimating that such checks could reduce the industry’s income by £8.4m to £14.9m per year.

Elsewhere, the government has placed a lot of emphasis on reducing the number of gambling advertisements while also amending what is allowed to be included in these advertisements. The government has targeted adverts that appeal to the impressionable younger audience—this includes no gambling adverts before the watershed, no gambling football sponsors, no adverts showing live odds before or during sporting coverage, and many more new restrictions. This all seemed a great step forward, however, the introduction of many of these laws has been pushed back until 2025, with the government weakly looking to introduce the laws slowly rather than in one go.

Lastly, the government has started funding treatment for gambling addiction, supporting charities that offer advice, budget management, and support to help people recognize triggers to their problems. This money comes from a levy on gambling companies that would bring in £100m a year for the government to fund this NHS treatment.

The fine line

Efforts to protect the public from gambling addictions need to be made, however, there is a fine balance in making it safer for punters while also allowing gambling companies to maintain profitable operations.

The current affordability checks have a lot of problems, and risk upsetting both the betting companies and the punters, with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) deeming that it is “vital” that the majority of punters who bet safely are not impacted by affordability checks. To make this possible, the process will need to be fully frictionless for the customer with higher limits before the checks need to be introduced.

The Gambling Commission could look at deposit limits rather than spend limits as this will show those who are likely to be at more of a financial risk. The UK gambling climate is at a true standpoint currently and the gambling commission will soon be making a huge decision that will affect the future of hundreds of thousands of people.

Both sides are going to have to compromise to find a suitable solution. Success, however, will likely depend on the severity of the affordability checks.