The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) reports that its new data indicates that “there is no evidence of a significant or sustained increase in gambling activity” over the COVID-19 era across the population as a whole.
Gambling behaviour during lockdown
The remarks were made as the regulator publishes more details detailing how gambling behaviour in Great Britain has been affected by the renewed tightening of lockdown measures.
As outlined last week by Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UKGC, reaffirming the need for operators to show extra vigilance during the current environment, the latest data represents the period between March and November, inclusive, and covers both online gaming and market research.
Overall, the regulator notes that since the COVID-19 pandemic started, “there has not been a significant or sustained increase in gambling activity.”
Nationally representative survey
Taking data from a nationally representative survey of over 3,000 people, six out of ten claim COVID-19 has not changed the amount they gamble, with 27 percent reporting a decrease and 13 percent reporting an increase in activity.
As predicted, online offerings have seen the highest percentage of new players since the pandemic started, with market data taken from the Yonder online omnibus showing that gamblers expect their spending to stay the same or to decrease over the next three months, with a rise of three percent expected.
Women more likely to have taken up gambling
The study also shows that since March 2020, where they had not played before, women under the age of 35 are more likely than average to have started gambling, with men in the same age group the most likely to have increased their gambling activity.
Increased online business activity
Recent operator data shows that online business activity increased, with a three percent month-on-month rise in active accounts and four percent in bets, while gross gambling yield fell 13 percent as a result of normalising real event betting margins.
GGY slots rose by three percent to nearly £ 177 million and the number of bets rose by four percent to over 5.2 billion, as the number of active accounts rose by one percent to 2.8 million, the highest figure in the pandemic era.
Longer slot sessions
In October to November, the number of online slot sessions lasting more than an hour rose by three percent to 2.2m; one percent higher than the two percent to 27.5m rise in total sessions.
The overall duration of the session rose by one minute to 22 minutes, with nearly eight percent of all sessions lasting more than an hour.
The UKGC notes that in the online slots vertical, the average loss per player “continues to remain meaningfully higher than any other online gambling product,” coming in at almost £ 63 versus £ 43 for real event betting and £ 35 for casino.
The number of consumer interactions conducted increased by three per cent between October and November to a fraction of over one million. The bulk of which were of an automated type. Operator data shows that the proportion of such encounters that were direct contact by workers dropped marginally to 3.7 percent during November.