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Impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour - operator data to Dec 2021

17 February 2022

The Gambling Commission has published further data showing how gambling behaviour is reacting to the easing of lockdown measures in Great Britain.

The operator data reflects the period between March 2020 and December 2021, inclusive, and covers online and in-person gambling with data from Licensed Betting Operators (LBOs) found on Britain’s high streets.

Caution is advised when making any year-on-year comparisons between some months in 2020 and months in 2021, due to differing operating circumstances of 2020 and 2021.

This update contains operator data to December 2021 and encompasses previously published data which has now been corrected. We will be publishing this data on a quarterly basis, and as a result this analysis makes a quarter-on-quarter comparison.

Please note that this refers to quarters in the financial year 2021-2022.

The latest operator data shows:

  • online total GGY was just below £421m in December, taking Q3 (October to December) GGY to £1.2bn, a decrease of 6% from Q2 (July to September). The overall number of total bets/spins increased 4% from Q2 to Q3, while the number of active accounts 1 stayed steady
  • slots GGY increased 1% to £568m between Q2 and Q3. The number of spins increased 3% to 18.2bn, while the number of active players increased 5% to 9.8m
  • the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 8% (to over 8.1m) between Q2 and Q3. The average session length lasted 19 minutes, with approximately 7% of all sessions lasting more than one hour
  • LBO GGY decreased 1% to £533m between Q2 and Q3, while the number of total bets and spins increased to 3.3bn.

We recognise that the country is now entering a different phase as we adjust to life after a series of restrictions. We continue to expect extra vigilance from operators as consumers are impacted in different ways by the circumstances brought on by the pandemic and the wider economic environment. Many people will still feel vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances or readjusting budgets and time as life returns to normal with a wider set of finance drivers.

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 market related risk by:

  • assessing the impact of the strengthened guidance issued to operators
  • monitoring key data along with collecting and publishing this additional data
  • where evidence identifies additional risks faced by consumers, taking further action to protect consumers

and will continue to:

Read the market overview.
Read the gambling business data.

1This is the total number of times activity has taken place across all verticals; therefore, an active account may be counted more than once if they participate in more than one vertical. Additionally, a quarter-on-quarter comparison means that there is further degree of double counting in the active accounts’ data-point. For example, if an account has been active in two of the three months in that quarter, it will be counted twice in the total for that quarter. This is only applicable to active accounts and not any of the other data-points.

Last updated: 17 February 2022

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