Data showing impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour in August 2020

The Gambling Commission has published further data showing how the Covid-19 period has impacted gambling behaviour in Great Britain in the period between March and August 2020.

In brief, this latest data shows that there was a continued decline during August in both gross gambling yield and customer participation, which the Commission believes “underlines the importance of [its] updated guidance to operators”.

On its website, the Commission describes this latest data (following on from previous data published in May, JuneJulyAugust and September this year) as follows:

Data shows the impact of Covid-19 on gambling behaviour in August 2020

The data reflects the period between March and August. It covers both online and in-person gambling, from Licensed Betting Operators (LBOs) found on Britain’s high streets and also includes consumer research. 

The latest data for August shows that: 

  • The online market contracted slightly, with the number of bets down 2%, of which real event betting decreased 12%, and the number of active customers decreased 7%. Gross gambling yield (GGY) decreased 12%. These figures may be attributable to the break in English Premier League football, the holiday season and the loosening of restrictions allowing for more discretionary spending options.
  • The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 7% with the average session length remaining steady at 21 minutes.
  • The number of customer interactions undertaken has risen 11%; 4% of those interactions reported were direct contact from staff (down from 5% in July).
  • High street betting – GGY has remained steady, while total bets and spins decreased both by 2% since July.

Gambling behaviours continue to evolve as the country responds to challenges posed by Covid-19, but further underlines the importance of the Commission’s updated guidance to operators. 

This included guidance to  online operators in May - setting out the need for improved affordability checks, the prevention of reverse withdrawals and restrictions on bonus offers. This was reinforced for land-based premises in June when they were allowed to reopen. 

The Commission continues to track Covid-19 related risk by:

  • Assessing the impact of the strengthened guidance issued to operators
  • Collecting and publishing the data being gathered
  • Supporting the industry as land-based premises begin to open
  • Where evidence identifies additional risks faced by consumers, taking further action to protect consumers.

In terms of safer gambling indicators, the Commission comments as follows in its market update:

3% of total sessions lasted more than an hour in June. While this decreased to slightly in August, it still remains above the pre-lockdown level. With operating restrictions in place in retail premises, this could be driven by availability of machines or consumer desire to not lose their spot.

This is early data which we are unable to triangulate with customer numbers but does indicate the potential for an increase in intensity of play and the need for operators to remain vigilant in line with the Commission’s guidance and reminders set out to operators just before outlets were able to re-open.

As retail reflects new customer behaviour we could be seeing a mix of both displacement of activity from OTC to machines with consumers possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals, and the return of only the most engaged individuals.

The Commission’s consumer update contains the following interesting findings from research conducted on its behalf by Yonder (formerly known as Populus):

Behaviour change during and post lockdown:

Changes in spend:

Reasons for increased spend:

How and why consumer spend may be impacted over the next 3 months:

You can download below the Commission’s newly published:

  1. market update
  2. consumer update
  3. operator data
  4. consumer data.