UKGC confirms there is ‘no evidence of a sustained increase in gambling activity’

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published data delving into the potential impact thatCOVID-19 lockdowns have had on gambling activity.

Data from the report has demonstrated that ‘there has not been a significant or sustained increase in gambling activity since the COVID-19 pandemic began’.

Breaking down the statistics in a nationally representative sample of over 3,000 adults, six in 10 said the amount they gamble had been unaffected by the COVID-19 lockdowns, with a decrease in betting activity reported by 27% and an increase reported by 13%.

However, the average session length for slot gamblers did increase by one minute to 22 minutes, with around eight per cent of all sessions lasting in excess of one hour.

There was also heightened activity in the online market, with a month-on-month increase of 3% in active accounts and 4% in bets, but gross gambling yield (GGY) decreased by 13% as a result of real event betting margins normalising after peaking in October.

Furthermore, the UKGC says that the average loss-per-player in the online slots vertical ‘continues to remain meaningfully higher than any other online gambling product’, coming in at nearly £63 versus £43 for real event betting and £35 for casino.

During October and November, the number of customer interactions undertaken rose by three per cent to a fraction above one million, and the  majority of those were automated in nature. Operator data indicates that during November, the proportion of those interactions that were direct contact from staff has fallen slightly to 3.7 per cent.

Due to the closure of high street betting shops and casinos, online gambling has understandably demonstrated the highest proportion of new players since the pandemic first began.

Consumer data from the Yonder online omnibus shows that bettors expected their spending to remain at the same level or decrease over the next three months, with a small three per cent anticipating an increase.

Finally, the report also noted that women under the age of 35 were the most likely demographic to have taken up betting as a pastime since March 2020, whilst men in the same age bracket were more likely to have increased their spending.

The UKGC’s Chief Executive Neil McArthur recently stated that the authority has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards gambling misconduct during the UK lockdowns.

McArthur particularly emphasised the importance of compliance checks and the general responsibilities of betting operators to protect their customers.

“The gambling industry and daily life as a whole continues to be impacted by the pandemic and whilst there is some light and hope ahead with the vaccine, I want to ensure operators are clear of our expectations,” he remarked.

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