UK sports bettors a rational bunch who prefer betting to beer

Online gambling in the UK ticked up a notch in the most recent Gambling Participation Survey, but only if one counts buying lottery tickets online as a form of gambling.
(And really, who does?) The UK Gambling Commission’s latest look at the gambling habits of UK residents found 15% of respondents had gambled online in the past four weeks, up from 14% last year. But take away those respondents whose only online flutter is the purchase of National Lottery tickets and the online participation rate falls to 8%, the same as last year.

Men (18%) once again outnumbered women (11%) in the online arena. More than half (55%) of all online gamblers were between the ages of 18 and 44, with the single largest demo being the 35-44 bracket at 22%. Overall, 55% of respondents reported at least one form of gambling in the previous four weeks, down from 57% last year. Of these, 73% gambled ‘in person only,’ 12% were ‘online only’ gamblers and a daring 15% were multifaceted renaissance men and women capable of enjoying both versions. For those who identified themselves as ‘online only’ types, sports betting and spread betting were their favored activities.

This last stat was supported by a different survey, which indicated 48% of sports bettors preferred to wager online, compared to 40% who insisted on visiting their local betting shop. The online survey of 2,500 individuals by researchers at Loughborough and Staffordshire universities also offered insight as to the changing makeup of the UK’s high streets. Gambling critics have complained that betting shops are reportedly breeding like rabbits, taking advantage of the fact the one in eight high street storefronts is currently sitting vacant. But the online survey revealed that one in four sports bettors would rather place a wager than quaff a pint in a pub.

The survey results revealed more than just pub-bashing. A clear majority (61.5%) of respondents cited the thrill of anticipation and the thrill of winning as their primary motives for gambling, while the desire to make money was cited by a mere 27.5%. Loughborough lecturer Dr. Jamie Cleland said these figures indicated that sports bettors were “not driven by compulsions or forces beyond their control, but by the same motives as someone who pays for a cinema ticket or a monthly television subscription.”

Cleland also noted that 70% of respondents reported losing money over their past 12 months of betting, suggesting sports bettors are a self-aware and rational bunch who “gamble in the knowledge they are likely to lose money, but they do so in the exchange for the gratification it provides.” This was further borne out by the fact that 60% of all bettors reported devoting 2% or less of their net income to their wagering ways. Such responsible money management should be rewarded, so why not do yourself and the barman a favor and buy a round down at your local now and then, okay?

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