Industry News

Rise in popularity of online slots

Rise in popularity of online slots
Simon Wooldridge
by Simon Wooldridge Last updated:

In a retrospective analysis of industry trends in 2023, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reported a significant increase in total online gross gambling yield.

The data, gathered from UK online operators, revealed that this increase has largely been driven by an upsurge in the popularity of online slots.

The latest stats

The UKGC’s recently published statistics, which compares Quarter 3 2022 with the same period in 2023, highlights a 4% year-on-year increase in overall online yield, reaching a total of £1.3 billion for the quarter

Bets and spins data has only been regularly collected since March 2020, but also show an increase of 9% from 2022 to 2023.

However, this upwards trend wasn't replicated industry-wide, with many areas actually seeing a decrease in revenue. Verticals including machine betting and over-the-counter bets generated significantly less than in previous quarters.

Responsible for the general uptick was a 6% year-on-year increase in online slots with the actual number of spins increasing by 11%, and the total yield reaching £618 million.

Whilst the average number of active monthly accounts overall rose by 2%, the rise in the number of active slots accounts was 8%, reaching 4 million a month.

Also suggesting a rise in slots play is the number of online slots sessions lasting more than an hour rising by 3% compared to the previous year’s third quarter. An increase in the total number of slots sessions was also seen. In contrast though, the average session length actually decreased by two minutes.

Similar trends occurred in real event betting, which saw a 5% increase, although the overall number of bets decreased by 3%. The UKGC noted that the 2022 FIFA World Cup likely influenced the increase in number of bets that year.

Indications & implications

With the gross gambling yield of slots now reaching £618 million, it’s worth looking at the wider economic effects of these trends.

It appears that slots players and real-event bettors are, to an extent, propping up the industry and compensating for shortfalls in other verticals, cementing their status as crucial components of the British gambling landscape.

The rise in overall yield and the popularity of slots might suggest an influx of newer players. However, the reduction in the average duration of slots sessions from 19 minutes to 17 minutes may indicate that a higher average bet is contributing to the boosted yield. The latest reports, unfortunately, contain no information regarding average stakes.

There’s no doubt that this is good news for British gambling itself, which remains one of the healthiest and most economically productive, despite efforts made by illegal sites with underhanded and malicious marketing methods.

The British gambling industry is a robust one, and far safer than many of its international counterparts. British gamblers are amongst the safest, thanks to the legislation that has been introduced to regulate operators and, in turn, protect individuals.

One of the main factors that contributes to the relative safety of our gambling industry is that, operating under UK law, casinos support sensible betting limits, which help to avoid driving players away to illegal sites. The possible introduction of maximum stakes – which on the surface sounds like a good idea – could backfire as it has in other countries.

If responsibly regulated by the UKGC, the industry can continue to thrive, creating jobs, generating tax revenues, and providing valuable entertainment to the millions who enjoy playing responsibly.

What the future may hold

2023’s Quarter 3 online slots yield is the highest since records began, and the increase is substantial enough to suggest a broad trend regarding the popularity of online slots.

Whilst this pattern may continue, it seems likely to be impacted by the upcoming legislative changes.                                          

It remains to be seen exactly how these changes will manifest, but comparisons of future quarterly data should reveal whether or not the present popularity of slots is here to stay.

It 's hoped that the overhaul to British gambling laws will be designed and implemented in such a way as to protect vulnerable and problem gamblers without harming the industry or isolating the millions of responsible slots players who contribute so significantly to this vital part of Britain’s economy.

Simon Wooldridge
by Simon Wooldridge Last updated:

Simon’s long-term fascination with slots started with teasing 40p worth of change from the skilful spinning of 10p coins into a fruit machine in the last century. This has grown recently to a solid appreciation for the often dazzling artistry, imagination and mechanics of modern online slots.