The Gambling Commission has published further data for April 2021 showing how the continued Covid-19 measures, with the changing lockdown restrictions 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, with the first easing of restrictions taking place at the end of March, allowing individuals to socialise in groups of 6 outdoors. From 12th April, the retail sector, including LBOs, was given permission to open.
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. For the first time ever, on 11th April the Grand National was held behind closed doors, with no spectators and online being the only betting opportunities available.
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 lockdown restrictions and retail premises only being allowed to open from 12th April, we did not request data from LBOs again in April. We will restart collecting, analysing and publishing this data shortly.
The online gambling data, collected from the largest online operators, now covers the months March 2020 through to April 2021.
Year-on-year comparisons are not advised due to the differing circumstances affecting both years. For example, retail was in operation until 20th March in 2020, but fully closed in March 2021.
GGY increased by 3% (to just over £560m) between March and April, a mix of structural growth (increase in active player numbers – with an increase in recreational players expected during the English Grand National) and an increase in operator margins for real event betting from March.
The overall number of total bets/spins decreased by 2% from March to April, while the number of active playersi increased 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 increased by 7% between March and April, to just over £267m, as operator margins increased from March. The number of bets decreased (8%) while active players (12%) increased between March and April, reflecting the English Grand National.
Slots GGY remained relatively stable at £202m between March to April. The number of spins and actives both decreased 1% to 6bn and 3.2m respectively.
Safer gambling indicators
The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 4% to 2.6m between March and April. The average session length decreased to nearly 20 minutes, with nearly 8% of all sessions lasting in excess of 1 hour during April.
The number of customer interactions in April decreased 10% to 1m, with the majority remaining automated in natureii. The number of direct interactions undertaken by operators decreased by 13%.