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Data shows the impact of Covid-19 on gambling behaviour in November 2020

17 December 2020

The Gambling Commission has published further data showing how the renewed tightening of Covid-19 lockdown measures has impacted gambling behaviour in Great Britain.

The data reflects the period between March and November, inclusive, and covers both online gambling and consumer research. As a result of tightening of lockdown restrictions and the furloughing of many staff, we did not request data from licensed betting operators (LBOs) for November. We will restart collecting this data at a time when LBOs are able to reopen.

The consumer research data continues to show that across the population as a whole, there is no evidence of a significant or sustained increase in gambling activity in the Covid-19 period. However, the research highlights links between the impacts of the pandemic on people’s financial and mental wellbeing, and increased gambling.

The latest operator data for November shows:

  • activity in the online market grew, with a month-on-month increase of 3% in active accounts and 4% in bets, while gross gambling yield (GGY), decreased by 13% as a result of real event betting margins normalising after their high levels during October
  • slots GGY increased by 3% to nearly £177m. The number of bets also increased (4% to over 5.2bn) along with the number of active accounts (up 1% to 2.8m), a figure which is the highest from within the Covid-19 pandemic period
  • the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 3% (to 2.2m) in October to November; 1% higher than the increase in overall sessions. The average session length increased by 1 minute to 22 minutes with around 8% of all sessions lasting in excess of 1 hour.

Against the background of this data and our experience of the pandemic period so far extra operator vigilance is needed during this new national lockdown because:

  • most people will be spending more time at home and many people are likely to be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, the new restrictions and further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances
  • 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 the fact that sport will continue during this lockdown will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble
  • we know that some people may gamble for the first time.

We recently wrote to operators to remind them of the guidance we initially issued in May to online operators (opens in new tab) and their responsibilities during this challenging period for the country.

The Commission continues to track Covid-19 related risk by:

  • assessing the impact of the strengthened guidance issued to operators
  • collecting and publishing the data being gathered
  • supporting the industry as land-based premises adjust to changing restrictions
  • where evidence identifies additional risks faced by consumers, taking further action to protect consumers.

Read market update (opens in new tab).

Read consumer update (opens in new tab).

Read operator data (opens in new tab).

Read consumer data (opens in new tab).

1 Real-event betting GGY levels can be volatile due to the influence of sporting event results. We would also have expected an increase in real event betting figures in October (vs September) in that the month of October included 5 Saturdays (the day with the highest number of real event betting activity).

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