Published: September 19, 2021

UKGC July 2021 data shows the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour using operator data

15 September 2021

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 July 2021, inclusive, and covers online operator data.

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 July’s operator data.

The latest online operator data for July 2021 shows:

  • overall activity in the online market remained relatively stable in July. Active players 1 stayed steady while bets increased 5% and gross gambling yield (GGY) decreased 8%
  • slots GGY increased 4% to £187m during the period from June to July. The number of spins increased 6% while active players increased 1%
  • the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 4% (to over 2.4m). The average session length remained steady at 19 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 adjust to life 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 which took place over the summer where there were more opportunities for betting customers to gamble. This is relevant to the July dataset reported as it covers the latter half of the Euro 2020 tournament and remains relevant in the future months when the Premier League restarts.

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 consumers adjust back to a new normal 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 to full capacity
  • where evidence identifies additional risks faced by consumers, taking further action to protect consumers.

The Commission will continue to:

1This is the total number of times activity has taken place across all verticals; therefore, an active account may be counted more than once.

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