The online gambling data, collected from the largest online operators, covers the months March through to July.
Between June and July GGY decreased slightly by 4%, albeit that June’s figure was particularly buoyed by real event betting. This represents the first month on month fall in GGY since April.
It is worth noting that the figures reported here still represent an increase on the ‘pre-Covid’ normal.1
This could incorporate a number of factors:
- As the number of open retail bookmaking premises (other than Scotland) increased, this may have resulted in some transference of betting spend back to the offline environment
- As the entertainment and leisure sector emerges from some lockdown restrictions this could have seen replacement discretionary spend migrating to other entertainment forms
Online real event betting
During June we reported on an apparent release of pent up demand for online betting after the easing of some lockdown restrictions and the reintroduction of several tier-one sports. The high levels of GGY for online real event betting have continued into July, although have decreased slightly (-4%) from June’s peak.
Figures show the number of bets (up by 5% since June) and the number of active players (up by 4% since June) have both increased slightly.
This would be consistent with the release of pent-up demand, particularly with the continuation of football seeing a high frequency of fixtures, some live free-to-air television coverage, and favourable timings in terms of matches being spread out during the day and evening.
The reported figures have not changed significantly since June, as GGY declined by 2% (to £162m) between June and July, with the number of bets falling by a similar magnitude (-1%). There was however a slight increase in the number of active players, which increased by 1%.
This increase in active players and slight decrease in overall GGY means again during July there has been a slight decrease in the average loss per player, although the av. loss figure for slots is still meaningfully higher than any other online gambling product (£66 for slots versus £50 for real event betting and £37 for casino during July).
Consumer product engagement
The number of online gambling products played by individual consumers remained steady between June and July, although players are still more engaged than they were in March 2019. The figure for those engaged in more than one activity is down from 41% in April to 34% in July.
Safer gambling indicators
The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 2% in the month to July (down to 2,181,919), although the average session length did not decrease in this time. Around 8% of all sessions lasted in excess of 1hr.
Between June and July, the number of customer interactions undertaken rose by 2% (to 866,053), although within that number the majority were automated in nature.
Operator data indicates that during July, 5% of those interactions reported were direct contact from staff (down from 6% the previous month).
Licensed betting operators (LBOs) closed on 23rd March and were given permission to re-open2 from 15th June. The Commission has collected data from the largest LBOs for the months of March (pre-lockdown), June and July.
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
For these reasons, analysis is focused on share of spend across available products instead of absolute values. Data from subsequent months will be needed to help to build a more robust set of comparative data, post premises reopening.
Initial opening of LBOs in June has resulted in slight alterations in the way consumers have engaged with the products available. The product mix has shifted more toward machines, where Over The Counter (OTC) GGY is down from c40% in March to 30% in June and machines GGY increased from 48% to 57% in the same period.
Over the Counter (OTC)
5% of all bets/spins placed were OTC in March. This decreased to 3% in June but has since returned to its pre-lockdown split.
The GGY for these months shows a similar trend whereby OTC accounted for 39% of total GGY in March but decreased by 9% in June, before bouncing back to account for 37% of total GGY in July.
Self-Service Betting Terminals (SSBT)
SSBTs accounted for 1% of bets placed since the easing of lockdown. This is comparable with pre-lockdown levels. Despite this, the product has seen a slight increase in GGY in July.
Indicators for spend per session, length of session and the proportion of sessions which last in excess of 1hr have all increased noticeably since reopening, with a slight decrease in July compared to June3.
This indicates a potential for the increase in intensity of play and could be as a result of displacement of activity from OTC to machines with consumers possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals. It could also indicate the return of some of the most engaged individuals, whilst others may have stayed away.
GGY per session in June increased by 37% from March 2020 to a level of £11.98 in June. While this decreased to £10.53 in July, it remains higher than the pre-lockdown figure of £8.72.
The number of spins per session increased by 23% (to 142) between March and June. In July this deceased by 11% but remains higher than the pre-lockdown figure of 113.
Safer Gambling Indicators
4% of total sessions lasted more than an hour in June; this is an increase of 2 percentage points from March 20. While this decreased to slightly in July, it still remains above the pre-lockdown level. With operating restrictions in place in retail premises, this could be driven by availability of machines or consumer desire to not lose their spot.
This is early data which we are unable to triangulate with customer numbers but 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 customer interaction guidance and reminders set out to operators just before outlets were able to re-open.
As retail reflects new customer behaviour we could be seeing a mix of both displacement of activity from OTC to machines with consumers possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals, and the return of only the most engaged individuals.