It's no secret that the British are gambling enthusiasts: they have a long tradition of betting on sports and horses in particular. But other offers are also popular. Data from the latest Gambling Survey for Great Britain was recently published, shedding light on the market and the preferences of the British. Lotteries are at the forefront of players' favourites.

Gambling in the UK is to some extent deeply rooted in the local culture, but in any case it is a real hit in leisure activities: from the weekly bingo evening in the community to betting on classic horse races with a lot of fanfare at the events to modern online offers for casino games and sports betting. Gamblers on the island have plenty of options and make the most of them.

But what or where do Brits prefer to gamble? This question is asked every year in a survey of 20,000 participants initiated by the Gambling Commission. The latest edition of the Gambling Survey for Great Britain revealed that 48 per cent of the population regularly play games of chance, although the figure drops to 27 per cent if you exclude pure lottery players. Lotteries are the most popular game of chance in England at 21 per cent.

The Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB)

The GSGB is one of the largest surveys of its kind in the world. It summarises the official statistics of the Gambling Commission on gambling behaviour in Great Britain. These result from surveys of the population, in which data is collected from 20,000 participants every year. According to the Commission, the core objective is to use the information to gain a better understanding of the attitudes and gambling behaviour of people throughout the country. The German equivalent is the Gambling Survey. In this country, corresponding facts can also be found in the Gambling Atlas. Both papers have recently been criticised for doubts about their independence.

Lotto is by far the most popular game of chance in the UK

The GSGB shows that the National Lottery is clearly the most popular form of gambling in England. Tickets for the draws were bought by 31 per cent of respondents, with 24 per cent buying online and 17 per cent buying tickets at one of the many ticket outlets. National Lottery scratchcards were purchased by 12 per cent of respondents.

Certain charity lotteries are also very popular: 16 per cent of players bought tickets for these. This was done online by 14 per cent, while 6 per cent visited a sales outlet in person.

According to the GSGB, lottery is primarily a game of chance for older generations. In total, a whopping 39 per cent of over 75-year-olds are said to use games of chance on a regular basis. Of these, 27 per cent are lottery fans. Incidentally, we recently published an article on possible gambling problems in old age. Between the ages of 18 and 24, only around four per cent play the lottery.

Sports betting is the most popular among other games of chance

  • Sports betting: After the lottery, sports betting is particularly popular in the UK. Ten per cent of respondents stated that they regularly take advantage of such offers. Nine per cent bet online and three per cent place their bets in a betting shop. Football is the most popular market. Seven per cent of participants have placed their bets on it. Four per cent prefer to bet live, with horse racing being one of the top betting options. Only one per cent bet on other live sports.
  • Instant wins: Online instant win games, especially scratch cards, are in second place. Seven per cent of participants regularly invest in such offers. The National Lottery also played its part, with six per cent using its online options for instant wins.
  • Bingo: This is followed by a true British classic in the ranking, namely bingo. Five per cent of respondents said they played bingo every now and then, with online participation and on-site participation each accounting for three per cent.
  • Online casinos: Online casinos with slot machines come in last. Only three per cent said they played slots. A further three per cent like to bet on classic casino games such as roulette or blackjack. Terrestrial casinos or gambling halls are clearly on the decline. No more than one per cent place their bets there.

And why do the British use gambling?

  • Big winnings: Most of the test subjects stated that they wanted to win a lot of money as their reason for gambling. 86 per cent play with this motivation. This proportion is divided between 88 per cent of men and 84 per cent of women. The answer was given particularly frequently by 45 to 54-year-olds, where 90 per cent cited winning big as the reason.
  • Fun: Many people simply associate gambling with fun. For 70 per cent of respondents, this is the main driving force - especially when placing sports bets. 82 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds cited this reason for gambling. At 70 per cent and 71 per cent respectively, the distribution between men and women was largely balanced.
  • Boredom: Among 25- to 34-year-olds, gambling is often a remedy for boredom. 38 per cent said they bet money to keep themselves occupied. In contrast, only 12 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds mentioned this trigger. 28 per cent of men gamble to combat boredom, but only 20 per cent of women.

Overall, the British are fairly neutral towards gambling

The GSGB also asked people about their attitude towards gambling in the last 12 months. A rating of zero meant a clear aversion, while 10 stood for those who clearly approve of such offers.

There was a generally neutral to favourable attitude. A rating of five dominated the responses, with 37 per cent of respondents choosing this. In second place was a seven with 12 per cent and in third place a six, which was given by 12 per cent.

At the two opposite ends of the scale, four per cent stated that they did not like gambling and a further four per cent had an unreservedly positive attitude towards it.


Gambling is very popular in the UK and many Britons have a neutral to positive attitude towards such offers. In Germany, if the Gambling Atlas is to be believed, the situation is quite similar, but the overall German attitude is somewhat different. In Germany, around 30 per cent gamble regularly and around 30 per cent are open to legal gambling. Overall, however, casinos and sports betting providers currently have a rather negative image in German society. The most popular game of chance in Germany is also the lottery.

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