Affordability crisis for gambling industry as rising cost of living causes half of active UK gamblers to reduce spend – European Gaming Industry News

Affordability crisis for gambling industry as rising cost of living causes half of active UK gamblers to reduce spend

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In 1970 Richard Branson and Nik Powell formed Virgin Group Ltd. Initially the company specialized in selling records, but over the years and decades it has gone on to put its name to a great many more endeavors.

The brand has, amongst other things, attempted to dominate the British radio industry, rival Coca-Cola, and become the number 1 spaceflight provider. One slightly less eye-catching, but much more successful Virgin venture is the ever-popular online casino site Virgin Games.

Founded in 2003, Virgin Games entered the market at just the right time. Within a few years of its foundation, online gambling would go from an uncommon pastime to a cultural phenomenon.

In 2013 the success of Virgin Games caught the eye of Gamesys, a multi-national software development, and gaming business. Since then the company has been focused on growing beyond British shores, with European development high on the priority list.

In this article, we take a look at how that expansion is working out for the relentlessly ambitious gambling provider.

Virgin Games Business Overview

At the time of writing Virgin Games are in an excellent place commercially speaking. In the UK revenue grew by 20% last year thanks predominantly to the performance of slot machine games offered by the provider.

The most exciting news from investors and shareholders though came from Asia, where Virgin Games’ revenues grew by a whopping 30%. Much of that growth has been credited to the work that the company has done in cementing its brand in the Asian market.

Domestically the trend of growth has continued into 2022 with the company reporting average monthly users of almost 750,000 and monthly revenues of just under £65 million. The European picture however is slightly less pleasing for Virgin.

Why is European Growth Slower?

The UK was one of the first countries in the world to open up a legal online gambling industry. Whilst the market is regulated here in the UK, it is subject to a lot less red tape than many countries in Europe.

Confusing legislation and restrictive regulations have been cited as a major reason for Virgin Games’ stalling fortunes on the continent. In addition to that, the continent seems to have bounced back from the pandemic less vigorously than the UK and Asia.

Whilst many British gamblers used lockdowns as an excuse to eschew their bricks and mortar casino visits for a few hours playing online, many Europeans curtailed their gambling habits altogether. As a result, the continent has seen much slower growth in the sector since the economy opened up again toward the end of 2021.

It’s also important to remember that expanding into Europe is a tough task at the best of times. Europe is a continent of around 50 countries, most of which have their own unique rules and regulations pertaining to gambling.

In addition to that, there are 24 official languages spoken on the continent and a great many more unofficial languages. So it’s only natural then that European expansion is going to be slower for Virgin Games and more costly.

What Makes Virgin Games Appealing?

European legislation and language compatibility are obstacles that, if history is anything to go by, Virgin Games should be more than capable of surmounting. The question at the end of that though is what about the company will prove appealing to European gamblers?

The answer is much the same that makes it popular here in the UK and Asia – slots, poker tournaments, and live casino facilities.

Like the wider gambling industry in general, slots are the main revenue driver for Virgin Games and they boast a large and varied selection to cater to almost every demographic. In recent years there has been a concerted effort to rekindle the popularity of their poker tournaments too.

At the beginning of the 2010s Virgin Games were one of the biggest names in online poker, a reputation they are keen to recapture. One feature of the company that could make it a success on the continent, where bricks and mortar casinos continue to fall into obsolescence is its Live Casino.

This facility allows players to interact with real-life dealers who stream all the latest action directly from the gambling tables to the player’s phones, tablets, or PC screens.

Finally, Virgin Games has something that many online casinos don’t – brand exposure. Despite being purchased by Gamesy in 2013, the company still retained the Virgin name, which has made it recognizable all over the world.

It’s impossible to travel to a country in the world where the company Virgin is unheard of. That doesn’t just bring exposure but it also brings a level of consumer trust. Virgin is not just a company people have heard of, but it is one that people know to be trustworthy.

Will Virgin Games Succeed in Europe?

If you were to take bets on this question, the smart money would be on ‘yes’. Virgin Games have succeeded in the UK and Asia and are doing well in North America. It is only legislative and technical difficulties that are slowing down the company’s assault on mainland Europe.

Once these are surmounted, as they surely will be, Virgin Games will gain a foothold in Europe as it has in other international markets.

Author: Paula Allen