Tag Archives: UK Gambling facts and figures


UK Gambling facts and figures


  • All gambling operators (except currently the National Lottery, which has its own regulator, and spread betting) based in Britain must hold a licence from the Gambling Commission, which is a statutory regulator responsible to Parliament.
  • As at 31 March 2010, the Gambling Commission was licensing 3,275 operators and around 12,900 personal licensees.  The Commission is funded by licence fees from these groups and in 2009/10 it raised over £12 million from these sources.

Size of the industry

  • The Commission estimates that operators it regulates generated around £6 billion in gross gambling yield (stakes less winnings paid out) in 2009/10.
  • Around £1.5 billion is paid in gambling taxes to the Government each year.

Gambling in the UK

  • There are currently only 148 casinos operating in the UK in 53 ‘Permitted Areas’.  There are some undeveloped (1968 Act) licences but the total number is finite and cannot exceed 187.
  • Casino gambling provides direct employment to circa than 14,000 people and as many as 30,000 people in other industries provide services to our operations.
  • The government controls precisely where and how UK casinos operate; it determines the products, the pricing structures, it controls the marketing and licensing of staff and with its control of taxation it determines profitability.

Gambling participation

  • Over 50% of adults in Britain gamble at least once a month.  73% have gambled in the previous 12 months.  This figure goes down to 48% if the National lottery is excluded.


  • European roulette has a far lower house edge than American roulette. The European version gives the house a 2.7% advantage whilst American roulette gives the house a 5.26% edge.
  • The famous Martingale strategy, which requires the gambler to double their stake every time they lose and to continue betting on a 50/50 outcome such as ‘black’ or ‘even’, is mathematically proven to lose immense sums of money when playing roulette.
  • In 2004 a London man successfully doubled his fortune by selling everything he owned and placing the money he made on red at a Las Vegas roulette table.


  • The first set of cards was created in Gaul during the 15th century and the person who designed the original deck modeled his new design on historical figures throughout the ages. For example, did you realise that Charlemagne is actually synonymous with the King of Hearts? Or that Julius Caesar is depicted by the King of Diamonds? Similarly, Alexander the Great is actually the King of Clubs. And finally, King David, of biblical fame, was originally the man behind the King of Spades.


  • By far the most populous form of licensed gambling premises in the UK are betting offices of which there are around 8,500.
  • Bookmakers directly support about 40,700 full-time jobs and indirectly support a further 62,300 making a total of well over 100,000 employees. The industry offers a high number of jobs to those with few formal qualifications, boosting employment opportunities and skills development.
  • The Horserace Betting Levy (known in the industry simply as “the Levy”) was introduced in 1961 when high street betting shops were legalised. It is a statutory financial contribution in the form of a hypothecated tax that bookmakers must pay to the Horserace Betting Levy Board, which then disburses such funds to the horseracing industry for purposes set out in the Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Act 1963. These include veterinary research, the preservation of rare breeds of horses and the general improvement of horseracing. The Board is a non-departmental public body sponsored by DCMS and funded out of the Levy it collects from bookmakers.
  • The largest known bet placed on the Super Bowl was made by an unknown gambler at the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas. The gambler put $2.4 million on San Francisco beating San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX. The 49ers won the gambler $300,000.
  • According to Guinness World Records, the highest odds for an accumulator bet were 3,072,887 to 1 by an unnamed woman from Nottingham on 2 May 1995.

Online gambling

  • Over 2,500 online gambling websites can be accessed from the UK, but the market is completely dominated by a much smaller group of companies who are primarily licensed in Britain, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Malta and Gibraltar.  Many of these such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Gala Coral and Rank are also known for having land-based operations in the UK as well.
  • If those only playing National Lottery games remotely are excluded, 5.6% of the adult population had participated in remote gambling in the year to March 2009.


  • There were 216 bingo operators licensed by the Commission at 31 March 2009, operating 641 clubs.
  • In 2008 Soraya Lowell, 38, from Hamilton in Lanarkshire won the National Bingo Game and its Platinum Jackpot on Sunday night, netting £1,167,795. The mother-of-four decided to give half of her winnings to Agnes O’Neill, 68, her neighbour and bingo companion who was with her when she hit the jackpot.

Slot machines

  • It is estimated by the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA) that there were over 248,000 gaming machines available to the public at 31 March 2009.
  • The largest jackpot ever won in Las Vegas was $39.7 million and was won in March of 2003 at the Excalibur casino. The lucky winner was a 25-year-old man from Los Angeles that turned a $100 stint at the slots into the biggest win ever recorded. The instantly wealthy man was visiting Vegas for the NCAA basketball tournaments and just sat down at the slot machine to play for a while. He walked away with a whopping $1.5 million payout for the next 25 years.

National lottery

  • Since its launch in 1994, the National Lottery has given over £34 billion in prizes and created over 2,000 millionaires.
  • Total National Lottery ticket sales for the year to 31 March 2009 were £5,149.1 million, an increase of £182.8 million on the previous year.
  • 96% of the UK population either live or work within two miles of a Lottery terminal.


  • It is generally believed that Spanish Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad is the world’s largest lottery. However, as every number entered is printed on 170 tickets which are usually sold in fractions (usually tenths), the El Gordo prizes are usually split between multiple winners.
  • Mega Millions is a lottery played in 42 US jurisdictions. Since it began as The Big Game in 1996 (it adopted its current name in 2002), it is known for its large jackpot prizes and long odds. On 6 March 2007, a Mega Millions jackpot worth $390 million was split by two tickets, one each from Georgia and New Jersey. To date, this is the largest recorded payout (of an annuity-based prize) in the world. Both winners chose a lump sum payout which was $116,957,083.

Problem gambling

  • The gambling industry has committed to donate a minimum of £5 million per year between 2009 and 2012 to help fund problem gambling related research, education and treatment.
  • Depending on the screen used, the rate for problem gambling in the UK is either 0.7% or 0.9%. These rates are similar to those in other European countries (such as Germany and Norway) and are lower than countries such as the USA and Australia.