The gambling industry is worth a staggering £13.8 billion to the UK economy, but last summer’s shock decision to leave the EU could have serious consequences for one of the nation’s favourite pastimes.
The EuroMillions jackpot could increase in value to UK players
One of the main post-Brexit concerns for gamblers is how leaving the EU could affect our participation in the EuroMillions lotto. Many of the British public are keen EuroMillions players, with only France and Spain producing more jackpot winners. In fact, in the wake of 2016’s referendum, sales of EuroMillions tickets surged 48%, with many players looking to capitalise on what they thought could be the last opportunity to win.
The good news is that the UK will still be able to participate once we leave the EU as the competition is arranged via each country’s domestic lotteries and not the EU. The official EuroMillions site states: You do not have to live in a participating EU country to buy tickets; for example, Switzerland is not an EU member and has participated in EuroMillions since October 2004. The competition has nothing to do with a country’s government and their policies.
However, Brexit has had one unlikely side-effect. Due to falling value of British currency, lucky Brits can actually expect to win more post-Brexit. As explained by the official website, a €100 million pre-Brexit jackpot would have been worth around £73.2 million. On Brexit day, the same jackpot was worth approximately £80.8 million, an increase of £9.5 million.
Brexit will impact the UK’s online gambling industry
Although Brexit may not influence what we play, it is likely to impact how we play it. Online betting is an increasingly valuable part of the gambling industry, making up 32% of the overall UK market. While Brexit is unlikely to change the rising popularity of online gambling, some of the most popular betting websites could suffer.
The likes of Bet365, William Hill and 32Red are all based outside the UK in Gibraltar, meaning these companies may be forced to relocate their operations. Yes, Gibraltar remains a British territory, but many of the workers at these companies come from Spain, with whom the UK territory currently enjoys a soft border. If Brexit changes this, skilled workers could be harder to come by.
British players may then be attracted to websites that offer more value after Brexit. For instance, MyLotto24, an online betting site based in Ireland, offer a “Jackpot Hunter” option on EuroMillions betting that ensures players always remember to enter draws with larger jackpots. Websites like this will not face the same problems as UK or Gibraltar-based sites as their headquarters are based in countries that remain part of the EU.
High street woes could be intensified
Much has been said about the decline of the high street as a result of online shopping. But there has been little conversation about the contribution of betting shops to UK high streets. It’s rare to find a British high street that has not been kitted out with a bookmakers. There are around 9,000 licensed betting shops in the UK, with half of those operate by either Ladbrokes or William Hill.
As discussed, Brexit is likely to see an increase in gambling with online sites based outside the UK. According to The Telegraph, there has already been a decrease in the amount bet over the counter in shops that correlates with the decision to leave the European Union. From January 2017 to the end of April, there was 7% drop in the number of bets in the shops, resulting in a 2% drop in total retail revenue.
Jim Mullen, Chief Executive of Ladbrokes Coral, described this trend as a continuation of decreasing returns that dates back to the middle of 2016 – something “driven by the challenging UK high street environment” as well as its efforts to push more customers online. Although this trend can’t be directly linked to Brexit, the decision to leave the European Union may add to the worries of betting companies and their representation on the high street.