Recently published figures on the online gambling industry indicate that it is continuing to experience healthy growth.

Whilst last year the number of online and telephone gambling operators was 300, this year it increased by nearly 10% to 328. This sector is in fact quite diverse. Remote betting is offered by many of the high street betting shop operators in parallel with their usual activities. There are also a large number of operators such as Betfair that only provide online services. Other sectors are characterised by operators that run their own servers, and others that make use of some of these facilities to run a parallel business. Fantasy football is a big sector. There are nine bingo operators and twenty online casino operators.

For a number of reasons, including tax and regulation, many of these operators are physically located overseas. The most popular locations are the Isle of Man, Alderney, Malta and Gibraltar. This means that government statistics are not available on these operators so in order to gather meaningful data the gambling commission carries out annual surveys of randomly selected adults.

In a recent survey of 8,000 adults, it was found that nearly 10% had participated in gambling either online, over the phone or on television. This is slightly up on the previous year and 30% up on 2006. By far the greatest majority of remote gamblers are males under the age of 44 who gamble using computers or other online devices. It should be noted that the online lottery accounts for almost half of all remote gambling activity.

These figures suggest that online gaming is growing at an average rate of a little over ten percent a year. Considering that this has continued through one of the bleakest periods in the economic history of the UK, it is a staggeringly high figure. Neither is this benefiting from a decline in gambling at bricks and mortar establishment, as these are also experiencing growth, even in bingo. Perhaps gambling is simply becoming more acceptable in society. In another survey, it was found that around two thirds of us had a bet last year.

By Hollie Wilcox
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