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EY report: GB gambling contributed £7.7bn to economy in 2019

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The British gambling industry contributes £7.7bn to the country’s economy according to an Ernst & Young report commissioned by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

In addition, the report noted the gambling sector provides 61,000 jobs across the country, while contributing indirectly to a further 58,000 jobs. However, its contribution, both in financial and employment terms, is to fall in 2020, as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The £7.7bn figure, comprises the contribution the industry adds to Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, known as its gross value added (GVA).

Breaking down this total, £2.6bn came directly from the operations of BGC members. A further £2.9bn was indirect, through demand these members created down the supply chain.

Finally, £2.2bn was defined as induced, meaning it came from spending by those employed by BGC members.

While the remote sector had the largest overall GVA, at £3.8bn, retail betting shops made the largest direct contribution, at £1.1bn.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said the importance of the sector on the economy was worth noting at a time when the nation’s finances had been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“At a time of economic fears and huge pressures on public finances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the huge contribution betting and gaming makes to UK plc could not be more important,” Dugher explained.

Breaking this down by region, GVA was highest in the North of England at £850m, followed by London at £730m.

Looking at employment in more detail, BGC members employed 61,000 staff directly in 2019. EY noted that these members tend to be younger than in most industries.

The report added that employment in the industry is highest in the North of England, where 27% of retail betting and 43% of remote jobs are located. 

The report estimated members created another 44,000 indirect supply chain jobs and 14,000 jobs supported sector employees’ spending.

The report noted that GVA per person at these supply chain jobs was especially high, due to high spend by BGC members in areas such as marketing.

Looking at tax, BGC members were estimated to have paid a combined £3.2bn in 2019. Of this total, betting and gaming duties made up £1.6bn, while operators paid £1.5bn in other taxes. The remote sector paid the most taxes, at £1.8bn.

EY noted that while the sector’s GVA came to 0.13% of Britain’s economy, it paid 0.4% of taxes.

BGC members’ suppliers paid a further £700m in duties, while taxes from businesses supported by industry spending came to £600m.

EY added that the sector made an additional contribution to the economy via sport, including £70m spent on sponsorship and an estimated £97m through the horserace betting levy in 2019/20. It said the overall contribution of the sector on horseracing including sponsorship and advertising came to £350m.

The report then attempted to estimate the impact of Covid-19 on the revenue of each sector of the industry. It said remote revenue was likely to rise by 7% in 2020 to £5.9bn, largely due to substitution. 

With brick-and-mortar facilities closed for much of the past year, it anticipated retail betting revenue falling 45% to £1.6bn. Casino revenue is expected to fall by 70% to £300m, following several months of lockdowns. Revenue for London’s high-end casinos is expected to fall even further, by 75% to £39m.

It said employment is expected to fall from 61,000 to 56,000, with the fall cushioned somewhat by the government’s furlough scheme. The sharpest drop is expected in high-end casinos, with employment expected to fall from 1,200 to 800.

The BGC added that the pandemic has already led to closures of 374 betting shops and six casinos, and the loss of 5,000 jobs.

“From hospitality to high streets, the betting and gaming industry makes a huge contribution to the UK economy,” BGC chair Brigid Simmonds said. “Casinos in London alone contribute £120m to the tourism sector, and look forward to being open once again.

“The contribution made to the Treasury by the betting and gaming sector, its support for sport and the jobs they offer to young people, so many of them highly skilled, are absolutely vital, especially in these uncertain times.”

As a result of this lower revenue and employment, BGC members’ GVA in 2020 is expected to be £1.1bn lower than 2019, at £1.5bn. The overall GVA is expected to decline to £6.2bn from £7.7bn.

Looking further ahead, EY said it expected the market as a whole to recover in the longer term, but said retail betting revenue may stay below 2019 levels. 

It anticipated that in 2023, overall gross gambling yield will be £11.1bn, up from £9.5bn in 2019.

At this point, it expected remote betting revenue to be up 31% from 2019, casino revenue up 3% and high-end casino revenue up 20%. However, it said retail betting revenue was expected to remain 9% below 2019 levels.

The report also expected employment to reach 2019 levels in 2022 and to exceed this in 2023 with 63,000 people employed.

Dugher added that, with the government’s review of the Gambling Act underway, it should keep the sector’s impact on the economy in mind.

“As the standards body representing the regulated industry, the BGC fully supports the government’s Gambling Review plus the need for continued higher safer gambling standards and more change to regulation,” Dugher said.

“However, it is vital that the government gets those changes right and does nothing to put at risk the futures jobs and tax take of a growing, world-leading British industry.

The report was based on data from the Gambling Commission, Office of National Statistics (ONS), the BGC, revenue data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

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