How popular is online gambling in Wales? Extremely popular, if the latest UK government figures are any indication.
According to a 2018 report from the UK Gambling Commission, the British gambling industry is worth £14.5bn in total gross gambling yield per year. Online (or remote) gambling is the largest sector of the gambling industry, comprising 38.8% or £5.6 billion of overall gambling yield.
With 3.1 million people, Wales accounts for around 4.7% of the British population. All the evidence suggests online gambling is as popular – if not more popular in Wales – as in the rest of the country. Therefore, it can be calculated that people in Wales account for around £260 million in gross online gambling yield per year. That’s a lot for a small country and undoubtedly more than European countries of a similar size.
What do Welsh people like betting on?
Using the UK Gambling Commission’s findings as an indication, Welsh people – and British people more generally – prefer online casinos, particularly slots games. Next in the online gaming sector comes football and horse betting, which is known for its popularity across Britain.
Although no separate figures exist for Wales, rugby is up there as one of the most popular sports in Britain for online betting. Given the special place rugby holds in people’s hearts west of the Wales-England border, it’s safe to say Welsh residents account for a much higher share of online betting on rugby than their proportion of the population would indicate.
Which devices do Welsh people prefer for online betting?
Based on a separate Gambling Commission report on gambling participation, we know that 51% of people reported using a mobile device for online gambling in 2018, up from 43% the previous year. The trend is pervasive across all of Great Britain, where mobile gambling apps are increasing in popularity.
Again, it’s safe to assume Wales is part of this trend. According to Ofcom, three-quarters of adults in Wales use a smartphone, in line with the UK average. Moreover, smartphone ownership does not vary significantly by urban or rural location in Wales. Since 2016, rural Wales has seen the fastest growth in smartphone use of all areas of the UK, beating urban Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. What that means is people are just as likely to use mobile gambling apps in Llangollen or Aberdyfi as in Cardiff or Swansea.
One possible reason for the uptake of mobile betting in Wales could be the rollout of reasonable coverage to most regional areas. These days, it’s incredibly easy for anyone with a smartphone to log on and access online casinos, online betting, and online bingo sites.
Welsh-language casinos on the horizon?
To date, no online gambling providers offer Welsh-language sites. The presumption is that the vast majority of Welsh residents either speak English as a first language or are comfortable with using English-language online casinos.
It’s estimated there are more than half a million fluent Welsh speakers in Wales but far less that speak Welsh exclusively. Given the increasing popularity of online gambling in Wales, it’s not outside the realms of possibility to imagine some of the leading online gambling sites introducing Welsh support in future.
Certainly, the UK Gambling Commission has acknowledged the importance of the Welsh gambling community. In a recent paper, it outlined the way it planned to provide services for Welsh speakers, including written materials in Welsh and telephone support for Welsh speakers where possible.