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Impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour - operator data to March 2022

18 May 2022

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

The operator data reflects the period between March 2020 and March 2022, 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 during the period of this data collection, due to differing operating circumstances between 2020 and 2022.

Comparison should also not be made with the industry statistics dataset, as the market impact data may include free bets and bonuses.

This update contains operator data to March 2022. 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 in Q4 (January to March) was £1.2bn, a decrease of 1% from Q3 (October to December). The overall number of total bets/spins decreased 2% from Q3 to Q4, the average monthly active accounts 1 increased 5%
  • slots GGY decreased 5% to nearly £541m between Q3 and Q4. The number of spins decreased 2% to 17.9bn, while the average monthly active accounts increased 5% to 3m per month
  • the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 2% (to 7.9m) between Q3 and Q4. The average session length lasted 18 minutes, with approximately 7% of all sessions lasting more than one hour
  • LBO GGY increased 3% to £551m between Q3 and Q4, while the number of total bets and spins decreased to 3.2bn.

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:

-take steps to permanently strengthen regulatory requirements, encompassing changes to Remote Technical Standards (RTS) and Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) to protect consumers

  • monitor operators very closely and conduct our compliance assessments.

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: 18 May 2022

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