With the rise of technologies, the gambling industry in the UK has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, delivering quality entertainment to tens of thousands of Britons across the country. Figures released by the British industry regulator, the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission), reveal the gross gaming yield (GGY) of local gambling operators exceeded £14 billion for the period between April 2019 and March 2020 alone.
The online sector makes up for a significant portion of this yield. It accounts for nearly 40% of the total gambling market in the country, with a GGY of £5.7 billion within the above-mentioned stretch of time. The National Lottery comes second in terms of market share, accounting for £3.4 billion of the industry’s gross gambling yield, followed by non-remote betting with £2.4 billion.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the level of oversight local gambling businesses are subject to is also on point, resulting in high degrees of consumer protection. Few countries can compete with the UK in terms of licensed gambling operations. As of March 2020, Britons had a choice from 2,576 regulated gambling businesses, with the remote casino, betting, and bingo (RCBB) operators accounting for almost 17% of this number.
Given the size and scope of the British industry, it is anything but surprising the country is home to some of the most established gambling companies in the world. Brands like William Hill, Betfair, Ladbrokes, and Paddy Power have now become household names among Britons. It is no secret that high levels of confidence and favourable public opinion are two of the main factors behind any industry’s growth. Let’s have a look at what the British public thinks about the gambling industry and the companies that comprise it.
Public Opinions on Gambling in the UK
Each quarter, the British gambling watchdog, the UKGC, commissions a telephone survey that aims to establish the local public’s perceptions and attitudes towards gambling. The consultancy firm Yonder Consulting conducted the quarterly surveys in 2020 on behalf of the regulator, interviewing 4,007 adult Brits aged 16 years and over in March, June, September, and December.
According to the results, 29% of the survey participants shared the opinion local gambling businesses are fair to consumers and can be trusted. As is to be expected, the percentage of gamblers with favourable opinions was higher than those of non-gamblers. Another question in the survey concerned the relation between gambling and criminal activities.
The year 2020 saw 42% of the survey participants agreeing there is a link between gambling and crime. The results are comparable to those from the previous year when around 43% agreed there was a connection between gambling and criminal activity. The survey also involved eight questions that constitute the short version of the so-called Attitudes Towards Gambling Scale, or ATGS-8.
ATGS-8 relies on a range of positive and negative statements that aim to determine the participants’ attitudes towards gambling. The respondents have to say whether they agree or disagree with each statement. Approximately 83% of the Brits interviewed agreed there are way too many opportunities for gambling, while 75% thought gambling can have adverse effects on family life.
Nevertheless, around 60% of the Brits responded people have the right to gamble if they so wish. Roughly 36% agreed most individuals who participate in such activities do so to a reasonable degree. As many as 16% said all things considered, gambling participation can be good for society as opposed to 12.5% who agreed with this statement in the 2019 survey.
Attitudes of Britons towards Gambling in 2019 and 2020
Year to December 2019
Year to December 2020
There are too many gambling opportunities in the country
Gambling can harm family life
Gambling should not be encouraged
Individuals have the right to gamble when they wish
Most people who engage in gambling do it reasonably
Gambling should be altogether prohibited
Gambling makes life more exciting
All the above considered, gambling is good for the public
A separate survey by the British market research firm YouGov revealed gambling activities enjoy the highest popularity among millennials compared to other age groups, with more men (26%) having a positive opinion than women (6%).
Top UK Gambling Brands Based on Positive Public Opinion
Now that we have discussed the general public’s perception and attitudes towards gambling, let’s see how local betting firms rank in terms of popularity. The market research portal YouGov measures the percentages of adult Britons who view gambling companies positively. The YouGov results for the first quarter of 2021 indicate the National Lottery ranks first, with 53% of the British public having a positive opinion about it.
The ranking makes sense considering the National Lottery is one of the most widespread forms of gambling in the country. A UKGC report backs these results up. The National Lottery ranked as the second biggest sector in the industry between April 2019 and March 2020, witnessing a 10.4% jump in gross gambling yield to £3.4 billion. During this period, the sector saw ticket sales grow by a staggering £696.4 million to reach £7.9 billion.
Most Britons have positive opinions about lotteries, in general. According to the YouGov trackers, the National Lottery is succeeded in popularity by the transnational EuroMillions draws (50%), the Health Lottery (41%), and the People’s Postcode Lottery (38%). The positive opinion is well-justified since most of the proceeds from the last two lotteries go towards good causes.
The Health Lottery, for instance, gives away around 20% of its ticket sales for health-related good causes. Similarly, the People’s Postcode Lottery contributes 32% of each sold ticket’s value to charity. Scratchcards come in 5th place as 31% of the British public sees them in a positive light. Major gambling brands like Ladbrokes, Sky Bet, Paddy Power, William Hill, and Betfred lag behind, ranking in 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th place.
Top 15 UK Gambling and Betting Brands in Terms of Positive Public Opinion
The National Lottery
The Health Lottery
People’s Postcode Lottery
William Hill Vegas
Top UK Gambling Brands in Terms of Fame
The market research and analytics firm YouGov also rated the gambling and betting brands in the UK based on fame for the first quarter of 2021. The fame parameter shows what percentage of the British population has heard about a given gambling brand. Similarly to the ratings we previously discussed, the National Lottery (97%) and EuroMillions (96%) top the chart, coming in first and second place, respectively.
The popularity of the transnational EuroMillions draws among Britons is no coincidence. It makes perfect sense many Brits have heard about this lottery because their country has produced 22.1% of all EuroMillion jackpot winners (or 112 winners) since the first draw took place in February 2004.
In terms of gender, the National Lottery ranks first as the most famous gambling brand among the country’s female population. As many as 98% of the British women have heard about it, as opposed to 97% of the men.
London-based gambling company William Hill comes in third place based on fame among the overall adult population, followed by Ladbrokes, the People’s Postcode Lottery, the Health Lottery, and Gala Bingo. Betfred, Sky Bet, and Coral rank as the 8th, 9th, and 10th most famous gambling brands in the UK.
Top 15 UK Gambling and Betting Brands in Terms of Fame
Fame Rating among the Overall Adult Population
People’s Postcode Lottery
The Health Lottery
Factors UK Gamblers Consider when Choosing a Betting Company
With over 2,500 licensed gambling operators as of March 2020, the last thing Britons can complain about is a lack of legal betting options. The choice is anything but limited. The question arises what factors do Brits consider when selecting a gambling company to do business with. Another equally important question is which betting companies do they prefer. Casino Guardian will attempt to answer both questions below.
The market research and analytics company YouGov reveals user-friendliness is the most important factor for British gamblers when selecting a platform to punt on. For clarification, the research company defines gamblers as people who have wagered at least once in the last month, either in-person or by using an online gambling platform.
The ease-of-use factor makes sense, especially if we take into account the fact around 45% of said gamblers punt on their portable devices. As many as 12% of those log in via their mobile browsers, while the other 33% use dedicated gambling apps. By contrast, only 19% of the gamblers resort to their laptops or desktop computers to place a wager.
Where sports betting is concerned, the popularity of proposition and in-play (live) wagers has grown in recent years. YouGov data indicates around 8% of British gamblers have wagered on the live markets within the last thirty days. Punters aged 18 to 34 are more likely to have done so. Given all that, a gambling app or a website’s user-friendliness is a crucial factor for attracting new users and retaining existing ones.
Competitive odds are the second most important factor that impacts the choice of a gambling company, with 28% of the local gambling population citing it as crucial. Around 18% consider the available promotions the most important for their choice, while 12% think the broad variety of bet types is also essential. The YouGov research also presented participants with several other factors, including the decent range of events and matches (11%), the companies’ care about consumer wellbeing (4%), and the availability of live-dealer products (2%).
Factors Influencing UK Gamblers’ Choice of Betting Companies
Ease of use of the betting app or website
Good promotional incentives
Fun to use
A broad range of bet types
A broad variety of events and matches
The brand cares about consumers’ wellbeing
Availability of live-dealer products
Betting Companies with the Highest Value from Consumers’ Perspective
Gambling became legal on British soil back in the early 1960s and many companies have taken advantage of the fact since. The country is home to a great number of licensed betting operations that compete with each other for the local gamblers’ business. Given all that, one question comes to mind – which gambling companies do Britons prefer and think offer the highest value.
Information published by market and consumer data portal Statista helps us shed some light on this subject. The portal relies on data from a 2017 survey that involved 2,000 UK consumers who gamble, aged 18 years old and above. When asked which bookmaking company they believe offers the highest value to customers from the UK, many of the participants, or 17.6%, said Ladbrokes.
Their response is quite understandable if we consider Ladbrokes is one of the oldest betting brands in the country. Headquartered in the UK capital, the company was founded in the mid-1880s. It adopted the name Ladbrokes in the early 20th century. It presently has over 22,500 employees and operated more than 1,820 betting shops as of 2019.
William Hill is Ladbrokes’ main competitor in terms of value according to the survey respondents (12.7%). Another behemoth on the British gambling scene, William Hill started operating in 1934 and went on to become a force to be reckoned with, generating over £1.3 billion in revenue in 2020 alone. The company traded publicly on the London Stock Exchange until it was eventually acquired by the US-based Caesars Entertainment in the spring of 2021.
Paddy Power comes in third place according to the 2017 survey respondents (9.7%), followed by bet365 (9.1%), Betfair and Coral (7.7%), and Sky Bet (5.9%). As many as 2.8% of respondents listed some other company as the one with the best value for customers. The remaining 26.9% had no opinion on the matter.
Top Betting Brands with the Highest Value According to UK Consumers
% of Survey Respondents
London, the United Kingdom
Entain (previously GVC Holdings)
£1.5 billion (2016)
London, the United Kingdom
£1.3 billion (2020)
Stoke-on-Trent, the United Kingdom
Bet365 Group Limited
£2.9 billion (2019)
London, the United Kingdom
£393 million (2014)
British and Irish Gambling Companies That Trade Publicly
Some of the largest gambling companies in the UK and Ireland have made it to the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The latter is one of the oldest stock exchanges in the world that dates back to the turn of the 19th century. Going public comes with several benefits for a company, including increased public awareness, an increase in market share, and the capability of raising more capital through selling stocks.
Two of the prime examples of publicly listed gambling companies are Flutter Entertainment and Entain, formerly known as GVC Holdings. The Ireland-based Flutter Entertainment is part of the FTSE 100 Index, which comprises one hundred of the LSE companies with the largest market capitalisation. The gambling firm trades under the ticker FLTR and has a market cap of £24.6 billion.
Flutter Entertainment is worthy of its place on the FTSE Index (aka the Footsie), but the company extends its reach way beyond Ireland and the UK. A truly global gambling operation, the company has successfully expanded through a series of acquisitions and mergers. It owns 95% of the renowned fantasy sports betting company FanDuel. The acquisition cemented Flutter’s position in the US market.
In 2020, Flutter completed its merger with the Toronto-based gambling company The Stars Group and is now the proud owner of the popular online poker platform PokerStars. Apart from that, Flutter Entertainment operates renowned gambling brands like the previously mentioned Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Bet, the Georgia-based Adjarabet, FOX Bet, and Sportsbet Australia.
One of the few gambling companies that can measure their strength against Flutter Entertainment is the Isle of Man-based Entain. Most readers perhaps know it under its former name, GVC Holdings. The company trades publicly on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ENT. Similarly to its Ireland-based competitor, it is a constituent of the Footsie Index. However, it has a significantly smaller market cap of £9.5 billion.
Despite this, the international sports betting and gambling firm operates some of the most well-known brands, not only in the UK but in the world as a whole. Prominent names include one of the UK’s oldest bookmaking firms Ladbrokes, Coral, PartyPoker, Gala, Sportingbet, Foxy Bingo, BetMGM, and bwin.
The company rebranded as Entain in the winter of 2020 under the pretext the new name better reflected its goals to become a leader in betting and gambling entertainment. It is fair to say, Entertain has indeed succeeded in fulfilling this ambition. Today, the company operates in over twenty countries across five continents, including Australia, Great Britain, and the United States.
Harry Evans is a long-year journalist with a passion for poker. Apart from a good game of poker, he loves to write which is why he spent several years as an editor of a local news magazine.