Gambling has always been popular in the UK. From dressing their best for most famous horse races in the world to betting on some of the nation’s favourite sport, Brits have an affinity for many different forms of gambling — including, of course, casino games.
Gaming in Great Britain — in statistics
The success of casino games in the UK has much to do with the history of gambling in both England and Scotland, as well as the government measures put in place to regulate it. The Gambling Act 2005, which came into force in 2007 and established by the Tony Blair government, allowed for the creation of the UK Gambling Commission. It also opened the door to TV advertising for online casinos and poker as well as sports betting and ensured there were regulations around online gaming and fixed odds betting terminals. As a result of the Gambling Act 2005, online casino games on websites, as well as land-based casinos, became increasingly accessed by British players, and the industry proliferated as a whole.
Since then, the industry has continued to expand — and made a significant financial contribution to the UK economy. The UKGC identified 152 casinos across the UK and more than 8,500 in 2017 — with over 100,000 jobs having been created by the sector. Gambling’s relationship to charity has also had a cross-sector impact; between October 2016 and September 2017 the National Lottery contributed £1.5 billion to good causes. During the same period of time, large society lotteries raised £251 million.
Gambling companies have become increasingly aware of the public’s perception — and the effect it can have on their business. In November 2018, 190 top organisations supported a (now annual) “Responsible Gambling Week”; a cross-industry initiative to promote responsible gambling across the UK and Ireland. John Hagan, said: “Social responsibility is fundamental to the gambling industry’s approach, and we are all dedicated, year-round to promoting responsible gambling.”
Recent government reforms to games include law changes to roulette games as well as curbs on the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals.
Pop culture and the influence of online games
Pop culture, including films, music and other cultural impacts, have had a massive impact on the popularity of gambling in the UK. A particularly good example comes from one of Britain’s favourite fictional M16 agent, James Bond. James Bond is a notorious fan of gambling. While his favourite casino game is baccarat, he’s also been known to play no-limit Texas Hold’em (as seen in the 2006 film Casino Royale) as well as craps — which he plays in the 1971 classic Diamonds are Forever.
And remember — James Bond’s cultural influence is vast. As one of the longest running series of all time, comprising of twenty-four films (with nine actors playing the character), Bond is definitely a force to be reckoned with in British culture; it makes sense that Brits want to emulate his character, and play 007’s favourite casino games.
Online games have also had a massive influence on the industry’s success in the UK. According to UKGC reports, more than thirty percent of the total GGY revenue now comes from the remote sector. The online industry’s success has actually resulted in more people becoming interested in online casinos, and gambling in general.
The large scale revenue now associated with online gaming has meant that games developers want to get involved — and new companies, who want to get their own piece of the action, continue to pop up. In order to entice more players, and get an edge over the competition, game developers and online casino websites are constantly producing more and more games for people to play.
Having so many options has made online casino websites much more attractive to a new generation of players; no longer are they restricted to whatever games a particular casino has the physical capacity for. They can access an incredible amount of websites online — each one featuring an impressive number of different games, as well as variations on the traditional games they already love.
The expansion of the online casino sector has also meant the quality of games available has increased. With so many advances in technology, game developers are now able to create immersive, exciting new casino games using innovative techniques and the latest software. New technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have begun to become utilised by game developers; while the quality of video, sound, graphics and animations continues to improve every day.
But can the excitement of land-based casinos be replicated?
Another reason online gambling has become so popular with new generations is its accessibility. With the advent of smartphones and other internet-connected devices like tablets, more people than ever have begun to play their games on the move. No longer do patrons of casinos have to abide by opening hours; many online casino games are available to play 24/7, seven days a week.
The popularity of online casino games has actually had a positive impact on their land-based counterparts. As a younger generation becomes interested in gaming by playing remotely, they may also become interested in the atmosphere at casinos that’s yet to be entirely captured by a virtual experience.