Gambling spend per household in the UK is on the up, particularly in the online sector and more so with online poker. Since the recent launch of Sky Poker TV channels, coupled with the list of high profile names now playing the game, the profile of the poker game itself has been raised along with expenditure. Online gambling has increased in general, and with the influx of online poker sites, poker gambling has become part of many people’s lifestyles, and indeed many people currently earn their living playing poker all year around.
Currently there are 4 poker channels that can be viewed by UK Sky subscribers and over 200 poker sites that can be played around the globe, making online gambling a form of entertainment and recreation that ranks alongside the cinema and bowling in terms of visits.
People in the UK love to gamble. The UK has one of the highest populations with the propensity to gamble (some 62%) only just behind Australia and Sweden, though surprisingly slightly less per population than the US where only 62% of the population gamble.
The Gambling Commission which was set up in 2005 following the UK Gambling Act of that year (the most significant change in gambling law in over 50 years) reports that the UK also has one of the biggest gambling spend per capita of any other country in Europe. A figure of £1266 per capita, collectively £76 billion a year, and 7.7% of GDP has been quoted in some press releases, compared to that of £600 per capita in 2004.
So of the 33 million people in the UK that gamble, what types of gambling are people spending their money on and where does poker fit in that list.
Well let us look first at the forms of gambling that are considered. You have betting on sports like dog racing and horse racing. You also have bingo, national lotteries, pools and scratch cards. There is also casino gambling and slot machine gambling, and then you have online gambling
The National lottery is the most popular form of gambling in the UK with 65% of the population buying lottery tickets. The next most popular is scratch cards which 22% of UK residents buy each week. Slot machine gambling comes in next with 14%, followed by horse/dog racing 13%, and pools, 9%.
It may come as a surprise that still only 3% of the population actually gamble online in online casinos or poker rooms. However, this just proves that there is still room for growth in the UK market. In general more men than women gamble online, except in the bingo sector where the percentage is 70% female to 30% male.
How much is being spent?
Average figures, provided by the Gambling Commission, show around £3.80 per household is spent each week on the National Lottery and some £4.00 per week spent on pools, scratch cards and other lotteries. £7.20 each week is spent on bingo, £5.00 for sports betting, and approximately £20 in land-based casinos. Approximately £10 per week is spent on online gambling and £5.00 on slot machines.
It is clear the online gambling is one of the major gambling expenditures in the UK. It is not clear how much is actually spent on online Poker, but considering poker sites makes up 75% of online gambling visits the amount is likely to be around £7.00 per household.
What is clear is that people love playing poker and it is not only men who have taken up this pastime. High profile female figures have begun to enjoy poker and the BBC reported one woman helping to support her family by playing poker at home.
With changes to the UK Gambling Act coming into force in September 2007, the government are suggesting that the Act will help reduce people propensity to gamble and will also protect children and problems gamblers. I will be a long time before proof of this is seen, but one thing is for sure, the profits raked in by the government on gambling taxes are set to grow alongside people’s desire to play their favourite game of online poker.