Gambling Commission Publishes Data on Impact of COVID-19 on Gambling Habits

Recent data released by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission has displayed how the renewed lockdown tightening has had an impact on gambling behavior. An investigation was conducted into the period between March and November 2020, and this continues to display no evidence of a significant increase in such activity.

Due to the tightening of lockdown rules and the furlough of many employees, no data was requested from licensed betting operators (LBOs) for the month of November. Once these establishments are able to re-open, the Commission will restart collecting data on them.

Despite the fact that no sustained increase in gambling activity during the COVID-19 period was found, the research does highlight certain links. This is primarily noted between the impacts of the pandemic on people’s financial and mental wellbeing and increased gambling activity.

Looking at the information for November, it is revealed that:

    GGY decreased by 13% due to COVID-19
  • A month-on-month increase of 3% in active accounts and 4% in bets occurred in the online market. Gross gambling yield (GGY) decreased overall by 13% due to real event betting margins returning to normal following higher levels in October.
  • GGY for slot games increased by 3% to around £177 million. An increase of 4% in the number of bets on such games was also noted, with the number of active accounts growing by 1%. This is the highest figure reported within the COVID-19 period.
  • A 3% increase was marked for the number of online slot gaming sessions lasting for longer than one hour from October to November. That is a 1% increase on the figure for overall sessions. Data shows that the average session length increased by 1 minute, equalling 22 minutes in total. About 8% of all gaming sessions continued for longer than 1 hour.

Extra operator vigilance has been called for in the new national lockdown. The Gambling Commission recently wrote to all licensed operators, reminding them of the guidance laid out in May. The information within reminded operators of their responsibilities to customers during the lockdown period.

The Gambling Commission is also continuing to track the risk associated with COVID-19 in various ways. This includes assessing the impact of the strengthened guidance mentioned, collecting and publishing all data gathered and supporting the industry due to the situation surrounding land-based establishments.