As Welsh Casinos re-open, we interview Jason Farrell about the impact of Covid on the Gambling Industry

Gambling is a popular Welsh pastime – Port Talbot was home to the UK’s first ‘bricks and mortar’ casino in 1961, but gambling entertainment covers a huge range of activities, including everything from bingo to the National Lottery.

It’s not just money stakes either, our seasides are full of slot machines, not to mention the huge variety of entertainment machines and ‘bandits’ that can be found in even our smallest pubs.  The ‘spoils’ range from soft toys in ‘grab machines’ by the beach to literally thousands in top stakes poker games, while a National Lottery win can be life changing.

Gambling plays a huge part in raising tax revenue for the UK – In 2019/20 betting and gaming tax receipts amount to just over 3 billion British pounds, which was also the highest amount collected in the provided time period.   However, 2020 has changed the playing field for gambling – could this hit our pockets in terms of tax revenue?

Jason Farrell, is the author of the Jason Farrell News Blog, a popular Gambling Fan site.  He says there is little cause for concern in terms of revenue.  Jason says:

“It’s important to remember that many of the online gambling companies are still UK based – and the UK will continue to benefit financially from their success. Actually I’d be more concerned about addiction – on my site, I’ve seen an increase in searches for things like ‘no verification casinos‘ and ‘casinos not on gamstop guide‘, which shows that gamblers who may have signed up for the Gamstop system while working in an office, may be looking to find ways to return to the habit while working alone, with a computer at home.  This is a definite concern.”

“The economy will continue to enjoy a significant contribution from the gambling industry – and may even see an increase as more people are finding games they enjoy playing online.  As for addiction, while there are risks of an increase, gambling companies are far more heavily regulated and monitored than many of the so-called ‘normal’ gaming apps which have been designed to be deliberately addictive, full of micro-transactions and highly immersive, yet nobody raises concerns about kids playing seemingly innocuous games on their smartphones and watching YouTube videos unsupervised.  Right now, that is where I would be focusing my attention, gambling is far from the only way to spend money online and one wonders if all these game developers are a) protecting the data of their users and b) whether they are all paying UK tax.  Gambling is well regulated and is a significant contributor to the economy.

“During the pandemic, the increased choice of activities provided by online companies across all sectors will provide much-needed entertainment, relieve boredom and tools like Zoom, Messenger and Skype have brought new ways to communicate.  We shouldn’t fear that it has coincidentally also increased the ways people can enjoy a flutter – and Welsh casinos have now re-opened, giving people who like to play even more options to play in person while eating, drinking and spending money in Wales – helping the economy recover.”