Andrew Rhodes, head of the U.K. Gambling Commission, says that gambling appears to have plateaued in the U.K. and as a result operators are seeking to attract different demographic groups.
Speaking at an International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) conference in Melbourne, Rhodes said that although online gambling grew fast during the pandemic, there has not been an explosion in overall gambling participation.
In fact, he said the market may have hit a plateau. As a result, companies are introducing new products and trying to extend their reach into other market segments.
“Whilst we have seen overall participation remain statistically stable, we are seeing more women gambling than before as an example of that change,” Rhodes told the conference.
Recently, he noted that there are two major drivers emerging that are affecting operator and consumer behaviour. They are the cost of living and the impact of safer gambling measures being adopted by the industry.
Measures such as stake limits and affordability have cut into revenue, but have also changed the revenue split, with a smaller proportion of revenue coming from high-spending customers.
Safer gambling eats into revenue
One of the largest operators has seen income from high spenders decline from 19 percent of income five years ago, to just 5 percent now, he said, without naming the company.
Another operator has introduced affordability checks and is rejecting seven percent of customers at the point of application.
“These companies are major multinational operators and have made conscious choices to actively reduce reliance on high-risk and higher-spending customers. I think this is significant,” he said.
Rhodes also touched on the problems of regulating emerging products such as non-fungible tokens, where the lines as to what constitutes a gambling product are becoming increasingly blurred.
“We are likely to see more and more integration of these types of products into sport and other areas of lifestyle, as well as the legitimate gambling industry. These are lucrative growth areas, and we ignore them at our peril,” he said.
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