The Gambling Commission has published further data for both January and February 2021 showing how the continued tightening of Covid-19 measures, with the implementation lockdowns across the nations of Great Britain, has impacted online gambling behaviour.
At the beginning of January people across the country were facing restrictions that meant they spent more time at home and may have been feeling vulnerable as a result of the restrictions and uncertainty about their personal, employment or financial circumstances. By the end of February, the Government had announced the roadmap out of lockdown restrictions as well as increased positivity around vaccine roll-out.
Unlike the first lockdown announced in March 2020, the continuation of tier-1 sport in the most recent lockdown meant there were many more real-event betting opportunities available to consumers.
Operators still need to be mindful about the potential of some consumers to be increasing their spend on some of the more intensive products whilst at the same time still engaging in real event betting activity, which was not meaningfully available during the initial lockdown.
Please note that given the tightening of lockdown restrictions and the furloughing of many staff, we did not request data from Licensed Betting Offices (LBOs) again in January or February. We will restart collecting this data at a time when LBOs are able to reopen.
The online gambling data, collected from the largest online operators, now covers the months March 2020 through to February 2021.
Gross gambling yield (GGY) decreased by 19% (to just over £495 million) between December and February, driven by both structural growth (decrease in active player numbers) and a decrease in operator margins for real event betting from the highs reported in December.
The overall number of total bets/spins decreased by 6% from December to February, while the number of active players decreased by 4%.
We will continue to collect and monitor the data to inform our views of risk, and if needs be we will not hesitate to take further action.
Online real event betting
Online real event betting GGY decreased by 12% between December to January and again by 16% from January to February, to just below £235 million, as operator margins normalised. The number of bets (down by 3%) and active players (down by 5%) also decreased between December and February.
Slots GGY decreased by 1% to nearly £177 million during from December to February.i The number of bets also decreased (7% to below 5 billion), while the number of active accounts remained steady after reaching highs of 3 million in January.
Safer gambling indicators
The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 1% (to 2.5m) between December and February after peaking in January at 2.6 million (up 4% since December). The average session length remains steady at 21.5 minutes, with around 9% of all sessions lasting in excess of 1 hour during February.
Similarly, the number of customer interactions peaked during January but then fell by 13% during February, with the majority remaining automated in natureii. The number of direct interactions undertaken by operators has fallen by 5% in this time, after peaking in January.