The gambling sector has proven once again that it is truly recession-proof by continuing to flourish while many other business models have fallen by the wayside.
According to online gaming experts eGaming Review, successful Manchester-based gambling data business H2 Gambling Capital reported a 12.5 per cent growth on the previous year in 2010 for the global gambling industry.
Gross win (the amount sequestered from unlucky punters) generated by the egaming sector reached US$29.95 billion (about s18.55 billion), and even without including the contribution of the football World Cup, the sector still achieved a staggering 11.4% growth.
The gambling industry, it appears, has adapted well to the changing tides of global economy, and, unlike the music industry, has fully embraced the potential power of the online and mobile market.
Companies such as Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill have all recorded first-rate profits for 2010, with growth from 2009 far exceeding even H2s preliminary results projections released in March and April 2010.
With over 2,350 betting outlets across the UK, William Hill is the largest of Britains bookmakers and online gaming companies. Ralph Topping, the companys CEO, commented on the companys success throughout a prevailing economic crisis:
"This is a strong performance and I am delighted that, in particular, our online business and the gaming machines in our shops have performed very well in the year. Our continuing investments in technology in what is a fast-changing industry have underpinned growth and the more than doubling of the amounts wagered from in-play this year demonstrates that customers welcome these innovations.
Ladbrokes, another of the UKs leading gambling operators with over 2,100 high street outlets across Britain, has also managed to rake it in with a profit growth of over 20 per cent on 2009. Again, the staggering takings, it seems, can be attributed to the success of their online and mobile offerings.
Ladbrokes CEO, Richard Glynn, commented: Our innovative range of new apps for mobile devices has helped drive a fivefold increase in the proportion of Digital customers accessing the Mobile service, currently 15%.
He added: Digital technology has changed the competitive landscape and we realise the imperative to strengthen our capabilities in areas such as Sportsbook, technology, customer management and online marketing.
Jesper Sogaard, CEO of Betting Expert commented: We have seen a very dramatic increase in the number of people using smartphones and even tablet computers to access online accounts. The rise in popularity these devices is meaning that people can gamble more easily on the move and is helping to increase profits of large bookmaking businesses.
eGaming Review highlighted that H2s report revealed mobile devices to be principal drivers of growth in 2010 - a trend the Mancunian company expects to continue over the next few years.
Interestingly, Cameron Cartmell of Ernst & Young, one of the worlds Big Four auditors, commented in 2009 on the uncertain forecast for the UKs gambling industry:
During the major recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s, gambling spend fell only modestly, by 10% at most. Since then, the industry has changed enormously. Stakes have doubled with the advent of new ways to gamble, such as the National Lottery and online gaming that are yet untested by deep recession in the UK and only time will tell the impact.
He also added that because the gambling sector was now in the hands of a wider consumer audience, it might be more vulnerable due to cuts in consumer discretionary spend. Obviously, the industrys success since has revealed that quite the opposite is true.
The industrys two key players, the bingo and casino sectors, grew their 2009 gross win figures by 28.4% and 13.3% respectively in 2010, while poker, on the other hand, was the industrys slowest climber, achieving a growth rate just 7.1% on figures from 2009.
The World Cup turned out to be egamings strongest support, with the increase in sports betting resulting in growth of 10.8% on 2009.