How do Britons gamble?

Rishad Dsouza
July 07, 2021, 10:42 AM UTC

The gambling industry witnessed a shift during the course of the pandemic. With offline opportunities and live sport limited by lockdowns and restrictions, more gamblers turned their attention to online channels. But on the back of a successful vaccination drive in the UK, conventional formats of gambling are accessible once more.

But is the pandemic-induced shift in the market here to stay? Our newly launched tool – Global Gambling Profiles, which collects data in 24 countries – allows marketers to answer questions like these in greater detail than ever before.

Where are Brits placing their bets?

Lottery games constitute the biggest mode of gambling, with one in two British gamblers saying they will play a lottery game in the next 30 days (49%). The popularity of the lottery as a form of wager is very high even though our sample of gamblers specifically excludes those whose only form of gambling is playing the lottery.

Sports betting draws solid numbers too, with a much higher portion of gamblers exhibiting a preference towards online mediums. A third of gamblers say they will place sports bets online (33%) as compared with only one in seventeen who intend to do so in person (6%).

Global Gambling Profiles offers greater granularity, allowing us to examine the consumer preferences in different demographic and psychographic segments. For instance, the data tells us that gamblers aged 25-34 are likelier than the broader group to play online slots (16% vs 11%) and that those aged 55+ are more likely to play the lottery (58% vs. 49%).

Fantasy sports-based betting is gaining ground

Across markets globally, sports betting is a favourite among regular gamblers and Brits are no different. Online sports gambling accounts for the interest of one third of all British gamblers who’ve placed a bet in the past 30 days.

But, perhaps due to the well-established nature of conventional sports betting in Great Britain, betting on fantasy sports is yet to really take off - only a modest proportion of gamblers say they will bet on fantasy sports in the next month (3%). But the flight of fantasy might just be taking off in the UK, as those in the 18-24 age group appear far likelier than other gamblers to bet on fantasy sports (9%).

Even so, much like other well-established gambling markets in the developed world, fantasy sports betting makes up only a fraction of gambling interest as compared to emerging gambling markets such as South Africa, Brazil and India. (we can link to the international piece here.)

How high are the stakes?

Not only is sports betting as a broad category the most popular form of gambling in the UK, our data finds it also draws the highest monthly spend among various gambling sub-categories.

Looking at the monthly spend on each category among recent gamblers in the UK, about one in six say they place stakes worth £26-£100 on sports and fantasy betting (17%). By contrast only one in eleven gamblers say they place bets in that range on slots (9%).

Sports betting leads the way in each price category. The differences, however, are slim in the higher levels of the monthly spend range (£501+), with each category drawing monthly bets that high from only about one in a hundred gamblers.

Methodology: Regular Gamblers in this piece are defined as those who have engaged in any form of gambling other than the Lottery in the past 30 days. YouGov Global Gambling Profiles, which includes data from 24 markets, is based on continuously collected data from several sources, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Data referenced is based on a sample size of between 1,337 to 1,632 adults in Great Britain. Online interviews were conducted in April 2021.