What’s the Most-Played Casino Game in the UK?

By in UK on
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There are 152 casinos in the UK, and players spend £5.6 billion per year gambling online. Of that, players wagered £2 billion on online slot machines. Clearly, British people have a thing for casino games.

After digesting these facts, I began to wonder what casino game UK players prefer. I had a sneaking suspicion it would be slot machines, but I always like to double-check the data to make sure.

Thankfully, the UK Gambling Commission is methodical about bookkeeping and reporting, so I dug into the data (released annually) to find out what casino games people in the UK play the most.

I’ve broken these stats down into different sections. This way, we can slowly figure out which casino game is the most popular.

Note: In this analysis, I have not factored in the National Lottery or bingo. I am looking strictly at casino games. I have also excluded data from the UK’s many arcades since they often offer low-stakes slot machines and no other games. This would have unfairly tilted the numbers in favour of slot machines. I wanted to figure out what games UK players would choose when given a free choice between all of the options.

Number of Tables in Land Casinos

It stands to reason that casinos operate on supply and demand like any other business. Therefore, I wanted to look at the number of gaming machines and table/card games.

The table below reflects the number of tables dedicated to each game in UK land casinos:

Game Number of Tables
Three Card Poker 240
American Roulette 846
Blackjack 545
Casino Stud Poker 0
Dice 15
Punto Banco 172
Electronic Gaming 3783
Other 86

It’s clear that electronic casino games are the winner by a mile. This includes slot machines, video poker machines, and video roulette in casinos. It does not include slot machines in arcades and pubs or bars.

Casino Games By Drop

Before we begin, you might wonder what “casino drop” means. It is the amount of money exchanged for chips. Therefore, you could say that it is roughly the revenue a game has made for the casino, allowing for the chips that some players may not have spent.

I was curious to see if the amount players spent matched up with the number of tables or games available. Did my theory of supply-demand for casino games turn out to be true? Let’s see what the numbers say:

Game Revenue
Three Card Poker £272 million
American Roulette £2.6 billion
Blackjack £761 million
Casino Stud Poker £0
Dice £15 million
Punto Banco £1.59 billion
Electronic Gaming £1.16 billion
Other £32.8 million

I was shocked to learn that casinos took in more money on punto banco (baccarat) than electronic games. I was also surprised that roulette made more revenue than any other games. I would have guessed that the machines made the most money but I was wrong.

However, you might have noticed that except for gaming machines, there were more roulette wheels in UK casinos than there were any other types of table or card games. So, if you allow that electronic machines are an exception, my theory of supply-demand holds true.

I did a little digging to find out what could have been responsible for the huge amount of revenue which punto banco generated. I found out that the number of Chinese tourists to the UK is growing at an exponential rate. Estimates say that twice as many Chinese tourists made the trip to the UK in 2017 as did in 2016.

Hmmmm… Knowing how popular baccarat is in Asia, and Macau in particular,  I wonder if this could explain it? We’ll never know for sure, but I think this may at least partially explain the huge revenue derived from punto banco.

Casino Games by Profit

Now you know that more money was spent on chips for baccarat than any other game. But which game(s) made the casino the most money overall? The UKGC reports that, too. The following table has the answer:

Game Win
Three Card Poker £58.26 million
American Roulette £329.2 million
Blackjack £171.3 million
Casino Stud Poker £0
Dice £3 million
Punto Banco £138.7 million
Electronic Gaming £169.03 million
Other -£10.8

Here, we have a clear winner in roulette. Maybe that’s why the casino has more roulette tables than almost any other game?

Which Operator Has the Most UK Casinos?

You might rightly wonder who is making all of this money. With players wagering billions every year, who has the most casinos in the UK? Remember that there are no casinos in Northern Ireland, so this data only includes England, Scotland, and Wales.

Operator Number of Casinos
Rank Group 67
Genting UK 42
Caesars Entertainment 9
Other Operators 34

The Rank Group has been around since 1970 and operates the famous Grosvenor Casinos brand. They have a casino in most major UK cities. It’s not surprising that they’re the market leader.

What Do UK Players Enjoy Most at Online Casinos?

The UKGC doesn’t report revenue and profits for online casinos in the same way it does for land casinos. However, there are two important numbers to think about.

  1. UK gamblers wagered £5.6 billion per year online. It isn’t clear how much of that is spent on casino games.
  2. UK players spend a massive £2 billion on online slot machines alone, which means that casino gaming must be a substantial chunk of the above figure.

While I don’t have figures on how much UK players bet on roulette, blackjack, and other table/card games online, I think it’s a safe bet to assume that slots are the most played game. A quick look at most UK casino sites will confirm that there are more video slots than any other type of game. There’s a reason the casinos offer so many slots, it must be that UK players want them.

I also noticed that online gambling is slowly taking over. When I looked at all of the games listed above in land casinos year-on-year, almost all of them were dropping a few tables each year. Meanwhile, Gross Gaming Yield for the remote sector grew 2.9% in 2017/2018. Casinos are slowly reducing the number of tables in land casinos as online casinos attract more and more players.

And the Winner Is… Roulette

Obviously, we can’t account for how much money is spent on roulette online. However, when it comes to UK land casinos, it’s the most played game in terms of revenue generated. It’s also the most profitable game for the casino.

This is entirely understandable. Roulette is fun, fast-paced, easy to understand, and sociable. Whereas slot machines can award multi-million-pound payouts, it can be lonely to sit and spin the reels. Roulette may not offer instant riches, but if you use some effective roulette strategies, wins can add up fast.

Players love it, casinos love it, and you’ll love it, too.

Roulette is the king of UK casino games according to my analysis.

Oliver Hughes

Based out of London, I began freelance writing for the UK section of GamblingSites.org in October of 2019. Having worked in the gambling industry for over 10 years, I now have the pleasure of adding this site to my list of accomplishments as a casino writer. ...

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Email the author at: [email protected]