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Market overview for October 2020 - operator data

The Gambling Commission has published further data for October showing how the renewed tightening of Covid-19 lockdown measures has impacted online and Licensed Betting Operator (LBO) gambling behaviour.

Online gambling

The online gambling data, collected from the largest online operators, now covers the months March 2020 through to October. 

Between September and October online GGY increased by 29% (to £542m), driven predominantly by an increase in real event betting.

The overall number of bets/spins increased by 8% from September, while the number of active players increased by 7%.

This highlights the importance of our recent letter to online operators reminding them that people across the country are now facing restrictions that are likely to mean they are spending more time at home and some people may be feeling vulnerable as a result of the restrictions and uncertainty about their personal, employment or financial circumstances.

We will also continue to collect and monitor the data to inform our views of risk, and if these changes appear to be more than short-term fluctuations, we will not hesitate to take further action.

Online real event betting

Online real event betting GGY increased by 53% between September and October to £290m, with increases in both the number of bets (up by 12%) and the number of active players (up by 7%).

Although there were increases in both the number of active players and the number of bets, the data implies an increase in operator margins as a significant factor in the GGY increase for real event betting. There were a number of sporting results during October which would contribute to this, particularly from the Premier League (e.g. Aston Villa 7 – 2 Liverpool and Manchester United 1 – 6 Tottenham).

The increase in October saw real event betting overtake online slots for the first time in this data set, as the product with the largest average monthly loss per customer (up by 43% to £62.82).

Online slots

Slots GGY increased by 10% to £172.5m, climbing to a figure which is slightly above the Covid pandemic average. The number of bets also increased (8% to almost 5.1bn) along with the number of active accounts (up 8% to almost 2.8m), a figure which is the highest from within the Covid-19 pandemic period.

The rise in the number of online slots sessions (up 12% on September to 27m), is larger than the increase in active players, although the data indicates that the number of average spins per session is falling.

Consumer product engagement

The figure for those engaged in more than one activity has been falling during the Covid-19 pandemic, down from 41% in April to 33% in October, but October marks a slight increase over September when the figure was 32%.

Safer gambling indicators

The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 12% (to 2.2m) in October from September, although this rise was at the same rate as the increase in overall sessions. The average session length remains steady at 21 minutes with around 8% of all sessions lasting in excess of 1 hour.

Between September and October, the number of customer interactions undertaken rose by 5% (to just over 1m) of which the majority were automated in nature.

Operator data indicates that during October, the proportion of those interactions that were direct contact from staff has fallen slightly but is still near to 4%.

Offline Betting

The Commission has collected data from the largest Licenced betting operators (LBOs) for the months of March (pre-lockdown) and June through to October. It is worth noting that LBOs closed on 20 March and were given permission to re-open[1] from 15 June.

Absolute values are not directly comparable between these periods for several reasons including:

  • Retail not in operation for a full month in March and June
  • Phased openings; times and premises
  • Local restrictions
  • Impact of restrictions on other retail gambling sectors

GGY reported for the month of October increased 9% since September to £204m. The number of total bets and spins also increased by 1%.

Over the Counter (OTC)

The number of bets placed over the counter decreased in October by 2% to 60.4m, however GGY increased 3% to £74.5m. The distribution of activity among products shifted slightly with OTC accounting for 36% of all GGY, a slight decrease since last month.

Self-Service Betting Terminals (SSBT)

SSBTs saw the biggest increases out of all the products. The number of bets placed increased by 11% from September and GGY increased by 49% during the same period to £41.2m.

Machines sessions

Machines GGY increased by 2% month-on-month to £88.5m. Spend per session increased to £10.77, a rise of 48p since September.The number of spins per session increased by 3% (to 126) between September and October.

Safer Gambling Indicators

3% of total machines sessions lasted more than an hour in October, this has remained steady since July.

Unique customer numbers are not available but the data does indicate the potential for an increase in intensity of play and the need for operators to remain vigilant in line with the Commission’s latest guidance.

As retail reflects new customer behaviour, we could be seeing a mix of both displacement of activity from OTC to SSBT’s and machines, with consumers possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals


[1] Except Scotland