Insights Gambling Commission publishes data showing the impact of Covid-19 on gambling behaviour in December 2020

The Gambling Commission has published further data showing how the further tightening of Covid-19 lockdown measures has impacted online gambling behaviour in Great Britain.

The data reflects the period between March and December 2020, inclusive, and covers both online and (where relevant) some offline gambling operator data, noting that December again saw the closure of all land-based premises.

The latest online operator data for December shows:

  • activity in the online market grew in a traditionally busy period, with a month-on-month increase of 6% in active accounts and 12% in bets, while gross gambling yield (GGY) increased by 30% as a result of the return of strong margins for operators in real event betting and GGY growth and player number increases in other verticals such as slots;
  • slots GGY increased by 13% to nearly £200 million; the number of bets also increased (12% to almost 6 billion) along with the number of active accounts (up 6% to almost 3 million), both of which are the highest from within the Covid-19 pandemic period;
  • the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 11% (to 2.5 million) in November to December 2020. The average session length decreased slightly to 21.5 minutes but around 8% of all sessions lasted in excess of 1 hour.

The Commission says that against the background of this data, and its experience of the pandemic period so far, extra operator vigilance is needed during the current national lockdown conditions because:

  • most people will be spending more time at home and online and many people are likely to be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, the new restrictions and further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances;
  • some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling and the fact that sport will continue during this lockdown will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble; and
  • some people may gamble for the first time.

The Commission recently wrote to operators to remind them of the guidance initially issued in May to online operators and their responsibilities during this challenging period for the country.

The Commission expects 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, as well as more generic email engagement;
  • avoid any temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes and be very cautious when seeking to cross-sell products; and
  • 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 and will continue to monitor operators very closely and conduct its compliance assessments during this latest lockdown. To read the Commission’s press release in full, click here.