What distinguishes Britain’s high-staking gamblers from the rest?
May 2nd, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

What distinguishes Britain’s high-staking gamblers from the rest?

Gamblers who stake more than £500 each month make up a small slice, just 5%, of all gamblers in Britain. In this piece, we examine who these ‘high-staking bettors’ are, their betting preferences and what motivations fuel their betting behaviour.

The demographics

Relative to British gamblers who stake any amount each month, the high-staking bettors are a more male-dominated and significantly younger cohort. Seven-tenths of them are men (71%), whereas the share of men among all gamblers drops to 65%. Those aged 18-34 make up 50% of the high-staking cohort, but only 28% of all British gamblers. They are also more than twice as likely as the overall group to reside in London (26% vs 12%).

Income info throws up a surprising statistic. High-staking bettors are six percentage points likelier to belong to the low-income group than all gamblers (36% vs 30%).

How do they bet, and which online bookmakers do they use?

When examining online gambling activities, the first aspect that jumps out is that high-staking bettors are markedly less likely than all regular UK bettors to have gambled on sports. Only two-fifths of them say they placed a bet at an online sports bookmaker in the past month (39%) compared to half of all UK bettors (50%). They are also about half as likely to have had a go at the lottery (19% vs 37%).

That being said, high-staking bettors over-index on all other major betting categories. They are more than twice as likely to have played casino table and other card games online (25% vs 10%). They are also significantly more likely to have played casino slots games online (29% vs 17%), skill games other than fantasy sports (15% vs 4%) and online poker (17% vs 7%). And even though they are less likely to have placed traditional sports bets at an online bookmaker, they show a stronger affinity towards fantasy sports games (13% vs 6%).

Looking at the online bookmakers they use, a fifth say they used Bet365 in the past week (20%) compared to 17% of all UK bettors. Betfair Exchange has a particularly high differential popularity among the high-stakes bettors’ group, with them being nearly three times as likely as the broader group to have used it (17% vs 6%). By contrast, they are somewhat less likely to have used Sky Bet (15% vs 20%). Other commonly used online bookmakers among the high spenders include William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Which sports do they bet on?

As established, high-stakes bettors are less likely to have bet on sports overall. But that isn’t the whole story. Looking at the type of sports bet on reveals that while high-staking bettors under-index quite significantly on football (37% vs 51%) and horse racing (35% vs 41%), they are more likely to have bet on almost every other sport in the past 12 months.

This includes tennis (19% vs 9%), golf (18% vs 10%), cricket (17% vs 7%), boxing (17% vs 10%), darts (14% vs 7%) and rugby union (13% vs 7%), among others.

This could simply mean that low-staking casual gamblers are more likely to be drawn to sports with a well-established betting tradition, but the high stakes bettors maintain a higher level of betting interest in other, more niche sports.

What fuels their betting choices?

Two-fifths of high-staking bettors say they only use betting sites that offer loyalty schemes (41%), significantly higher than all UK bettors (26%). In addition to loyalty schemes they are also likelier to use specialised websites to fetch better odds (34% vs 20%). But the attraction towards loyalty schemes does not keep high spenders tethered to one bookmaker – they are more than twice as likely to say they “like to try new gambling/betting sites that I’ve not come across before” (48% vs 20%).

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