The Gambling Commission has published data to December 2021, with the dataset collected since March 2020 showing gambling behaviour has changed over the period.
Retail sectors1 mainly reopened on the following dates after the most recent restrictions:
- 12 April - Licenced betting operators
- 17 May - Arcades, bingo, and casinos.
All remaining restrictions were removed in England on 17 July 2021.
While September marked the first ‘normal’ month for many with the start of the new school year and workers beginning to slowly return to the office, it was short-lived with the emergence of the Omicron variant in October. In response to this, minor restrictions such as guidance to work from home and face-coverings were implemented.
As measures come to an end, operators still need to be mindful about the potential of some consumers to be increasing their spend on some of the more intensive products while going through financial hardship brought on by wider economics factors.
We will publish 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.
This release covers data from online operators and Licensed Betting Operators (LBOs) found on Britain’s high streets.
The online gambling data, collected from the largest online operators, now covers the months March 2020 through to December 2021.
Caution is advised when making year-on-year comparisons for some months due to the differing circumstances affecting both years. For example, retail was in operation until 20 March in 2020, but fully closed in the latter part of March 2021.
Latest data shows total GGY reached £1.2bn in Q3 (October to December), a decrease of 6% from Q2 (July to September). The decline was driven predominantly by a decrease in real event betting GGY.
The overall number of total bets/spins increased 4% between Q2 and Q3, while the number of active players2 remained steady.
We will continue to collect and monitor the data to inform our views of risk.
Online real event betting
Online real event betting GGY decreased 16% between Q2 and Q3, to just nearly £461m. The number of bets increased by 4% while active players decreased by 5% between Q2 and Q3, potentially reflecting the cancellation of some sporting fixtures in December.
Slots GGY increased 1% to just above £568m between Q2 and Q3, after reaching nearly £562m in Q2. The number of spins increased 3% to 18.2bn, while the number of active players increased 5% to reach nearly 10m. Both the number of spins and actives for slots reached new highs in December 21, but the number of spins per active player decreased by 2% between Q2 & Q3.
Safer gambling indicators
The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 8% to over 8m between Q2 and Q3. The average session length stayed steady at 19 minutes, with approximately 7% of all sessions lasting in excess of one hour during Q3.
The number of customer interactions in Q3 increased 8% to over 3.2m, with the majority remaining automated in nature3. The number of direct interactions undertaken by operators increased by 6%.
The Commission has collected data from the largest Licenced betting operators (LBOs) for the months of March (pre-lockdown) and June 2020 through to December 2021. It is worth noting that LBOs closed on 20 March 2020 and re-opened4from 15 June 2020 before entering a tiered system in October 2020 and closing January 2021. LBOs were permitted to reopen again 12 April 2021.
Absolute values are not directly comparable for some months between these periods for several reasons including:
- retail not in operation for a full month in March and June 2020
- phased openings of premises after restrictions began to lift from June 2020
- local restrictions throughout 2020
- impact of restrictions on other retail gambling sectors.
GGY reported for Q3 (October to December) decreased by 1% from Q2 (July to September) to just over £533m, while the number of total bets and spins increased to 3.3bn.
Over the Counter (OTC)
The number of bets placed over the counter decreased 5% in Q3 to almost 146m, while GGY decreased 9% to just over £166m. The distribution of activity among products shows that OTC GGY has accounted for around 31% of total GGY, a decrease from 34% of total GGY in Q2, potentially reflecting more cautious consumer behaviour as a result of the Omicron variant.
Self-Service Betting Terminals (SSBT)
The number of bets placed increased by 20% from Q2 to 28m, while GGY increased by 7% during the same period to nearly £83m.
Machines GGY increased by 3% in Q3 to just over £284m with spend per session stable at £11.58. Number of spins per machines session increased by 3 to 128 spins in Q3.
Safer Gambling Indicators
Similar to Q2, 3% of total machines sessions lasted more than an hour in Q3.
Unique customer numbers are not available but the data 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 latest guidance.
As consumers begin to adjust to a new normal, there may be a mix of displacement of activity from OTC to SSBTs and machines, with consumers possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals in Q3 as a result of the Omicron variant.