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Billion Pound Game: Has the UK Become a Nation of Gamblers?

27 March 2006

UK -- As reported by the BBC: "This year's World Cup is going to see a 'seismic increase' in gambling ... and that's on top of betting on Big Brother and online poker. Has the UK become a nation of gamblers?

"This summer, £1bn is going to be staked in bets on the World Cup.

"That's the prediction from Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams, a government adviser on gambling and head of the Betting Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, who says gamblers in the UK are set to gamble an unprecedented amount on this year's biggest sporting event.

"This will be the latest surge in sports betting which, in just five years, has seen the amount gambled in the UK rise from about £7bn per year to £40bn, he says.

"...First of all, the nature of the betting market has changed radically.

"...Now, though it is growing, horse racing is "falling dramatically" as a share of the sports betting market and represents less than half of what's gambled. Taking its place, particularly in internet gambling, has been football.

"Another key factor has been that it is now much easier to bet - through the internet, mobile phones and interactive television.

"...So without leaving your home, you can place an online bet on a football match - predicting the score, the time of the first goal, the goalscorer or the number of corners - and then watch the match live.

"...There's also a trend for continuing to make bets during a match, says Professor Vaughan Williams, with the odds shifting as the game progresses.

"...It also reflects a major social change. When England last won the World Cup, betting shops had only recently been legalised - now gambling is a multi-billion part of the leisure industry.

"...Gambling has also entered the entertainment industry. Punters placed £10m on this year's Oscars, and there was £20m staked on the last US presidential election.

"...But expect to hear plenty more about the latest odds this summer. "There's nothing that moves that you can't bet on," says Professor Williams..."

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