The Gambling Commission has today (10 August 2021) published operator data for the period between March 2020 and June 2021 (inclusive) showing the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour in Great Britain.
The Gambling Commission has published further data showing how online gambling behaviour is reacting to the easing of lockdown measures in Great Britain.
The operator data reflects the period between March 2020 and June 2021, inclusive, and covers both online and, where relevant, some offline gambling operator data, noting that land-based premises have only recently been able to open since closing in December.
It is not advisable to make year-on-year comparisons between months in 2020 and months in 2021, due to differing operating circumstances of 2020 and 2021.
This update contains June’s operator data.
The latest online operator data for June 2021 shows:
- overall activity in the online market slowed down in June, with gross gambling yield (GGY) and total bets both decreasing 7% and 10% respectively. Active players 1 did increase 4%, likely to be a result of occasional players’ interest in the Euro 2020 tournament
- slots GGY decreased 14% to £181m during the period from May to June. The number of spins decreased 10% while active players increased 1%
- the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 9% (to just above 2.3m). The average session length decreased to 19.3 minutes, with nearly 8% of all sessions lasting more than one hour.
We recognise that the country is now entering a different phase as we continue to ease out of lockdown. We continue to expect extra vigilance from operators as consumers are impacted in different ways by the circumstances. Many people will still feel vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period and further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances.
It is likely some have picked up new gambling routines and habits during lockdown that may be hard to change as things return to normal, even as normal spending on other things resumes. This could be challenging for some and important for operators to identify through their monitoring.
We know that some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling and with high level sporting events taking place over the summer there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble.
We expect operators to:
- continue to follow the strengthened guidance issued during the first lockdown, taking close interest in data that shows consumers expanding their portfolio of games and spending more time or money than before
- interact directly where triggers are reached, in addition to their more generic email engagement
- avoid any temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes, in particular as lockdown eases and be very cautious when seeking to cross-sell products
- take particular care when on-boarding new customers and making decisions over affordability checks which reflect the environment we are in.
The Commission continues to track COVID-19 related risk by:
- assessing the impact of the strengthened guidance issued to operators
- monitoring key data and collecting and publishing this additional data
- supporting the industry as land-based premises continue to open up
- where evidence identifies additional risks faced by consumers, taking further action to protect consumers.
The Commission will continue to:
- take steps to permanently strengthen regulatory requirements, encompassing changes to Remote Technical Standards (RTS) and Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) to protect consumers as we have over the last year on ad-tech, game design and high value customer programmes
- monitor operators very closely and conduct our compliance assessments.
1This is the total number of times activity has taken place across all verticals; therefore, an active account may be counted more than once.
Commenting on the data, the Commission states:
The Gambling Commission has published data for June 2021, with the dataset collected since March 2020 showing online gambling behaviour has changed over the period.
In June, full relaxation of lockdown restrictions was postponed by a further four weeks. Casinos, arcades, and bingo premises re-opened from 17 May.
June also marked the start of the delayed 2020 Euros tournament which commenced 11 June. This type of event has the tendency to attract a recreational player base.
Operators still need to be mindful about the potential of some consumers to be increasing their spend on some of the more intensive products while at the same time still engaging in real event betting activity.
Please note that given the lockdown restrictions and retail premises only being allowed to open from 12 April, we did not request data from LBOs again in June. We will restart collecting, analysing and publishing this data shortly.
The online gambling data, collected from the largest online operators, now covers the months March 2020 through to June 2021.
Year-on-year comparisons are not advised due to the differing circumstances affecting both years. For example, retail was in operation until 20 March in 2020, but fully closed in March 2021.
Despite strong real event margins again this month, total GGY decreased by 7% (to just over £496m) between May and June.
The overall number of total bets/spins decreased 10% from May to June, while the number of active playersi increased by 4%.
We will continue to collect and monitor the data to inform our views of risk.
Online real event betting
Online real event betting GGY increased 1% between May and June, to just over £242m. The number of bets decreased (9%) while active players (9%) increased between May and June, potentially reflecting recreational players joining the market to participate in the 2020 Euros which started 11 June.
Slots GGY decreased 14% to just below £181m between May and June. The number of active players increased 1% to over 3m, while number of spins decreased 10% to nearly 5.6bn.
Safer gambling indicators
The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 9% to just above 2.3m between May and June. The average session length decreased to 19 minutes, with 8% of all sessions lasting in excess of one hour during June.
The number of customer interactions in June decreased 8% to under 1m, with the majority remaining automated in natureii. The number of direct interactions undertaken by operators decreased by 10%.
i This is the total number of times activity has taken place across all verticals; therefore, an active account may be counted more than once.
ii Some operators may have revised their algorithms.
The Commission has added the following comments in relation to the full dataset (that you can download below):
Data tables for operator data
The full dataset from the earlier months of the pandemic is available in the Excel document.
The data tables below cover online gambling activity.1
Table 1: Total number of active players per vertical
Data from the biggest operators, covering approximately 80% of the online gambling market showing the number of active players on each vertical.