ICE London: GC’s Andrew Rhodes denies “explosion in online gambling” since pandemic

February 9, 2023 11:11 AM
  • Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, CDC Gaming Reports
February 9, 2023 11:11 AM
  • Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, CDC Gaming Reports

Addressing the Consumer Protection Zone at ICE on Wednesday, Gambling Commission (GC) of Great Britain Chief Executive Andrew Rhodes revealed that, despite headlines to the contrary, there is no evidence of “an explosion in online gambling” over recent years.

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Rhodes said online gambling was on a gradual upward trend, but had not “not gone through the roof in recent years. Overall participation in any gambling activity in the last four weeks remains statistically stable at 44 percent compared to the year to September 2021”, he said. “Within that, the level of online gambling has continued its long-term trend up to 27 per cent and this is matched by land-based gambling as well. The overall headline problem gambling rate is statistically stable as well.”

However, he said notable market consolidation was changing the market and the way in which operators are able to compete.

He said the top three operator groups in Great Britain have increased their market share from around a third to half in just the last five years, with the top 10 now representing 77 per cent of total business to consumer gross-gambling yield in Britain and the top three groups representing 50 per cent. The largest operators are stating that revenues are down by 16 per cent, due to the greater onus on responsible gaming. Meanwhile, the amount of money staked is down by just over 13 per cent.

“We’ve seen the number of players losing over £500 a month drop by nearly 8 per cent and those losing over £200 a month by a little over 2 per cent”, Rhodes said.

“We’ve seen players staking £50 and over per spin for slots fall by 76 per cent. Some operators have seen this reduce by over 90 per cent, with the largest drop being over 98 per cent. However, the number of bets is up by just under 5 per cent and actives by almost 6 per cent.”

While the patterns of revenue generation are changing, Rhodes was clear that there was no evidence of “a flood away from gambling”, with data showing that the number of bets being placed with the largest five operators increased by four billion and the number of active accounts by four million.

Addressing the mounting controversy around the potential for affordability checks to be introduced as part of the UK government’s review of gambling, Rhodes said the GC never supported blanket affordability checks. Rather, he said: “It is for operators to set limits themselves based on their customer types, business, and risks.”

Looking ahead to the anticipated publication of the gambling-reform White Paper, he added: “Neither I nor the Gambling Commission accept that you can’t balance protecting people from harmful or unfair outcomes with freedom of choice. But clearly, government has a big role to play in making the judgement about where that balance should be sought.”