Insights Gambling Commission publishes operator data from April 2021 showing impact of Covid-19 on gambling behaviour

The Gambling Commission has published further data showing how the evolving Covid-19 lockdown measures have impacted online gambling behaviour in Great Britain. The latest online operator data for April 2021 shows:

  • activity in the online market increased with the presence of the Grand National, with an increase on March of 4% in active accounts and 3% in gross gambling yield (GGY), although the number of bets decreased by 2%;
  • slots GGY remained relatively flat at £202 million during the period from March to April. The number of bets and active players both decreased 1%; and
  • the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 4% (to 2.6 million). The average session length decreased to 20.2 minutes, with nearly 8% of all sessions lasting more than one hour.

The Commission says that against the background of this data and its experience of the pandemic period so far, extra operator vigilance continues to be needed. Although the easing of restrictions is beginning to take place, operators still need to be mindful that:

  • people will still be spending more time at home and online and many people are likely to be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, the restrictions that are still in place, and further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances;
  • some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling, and with high level sporting events taking place over the next few months will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble; and
  • some people may gamble for the first time.

The Commission wrote to operators at the beginning of the recent lockdown to remind them of the guidance it initially issued in May 2020 to online operators and their responsibilities during this challenging period for the country. The Commission expects them 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 and be very cautious when seeking to cross-sell products; and
  • take particular care when on-boarding new customers and making decisions over affordability checks which reflect the environment we are in.

To read the Commission’s press release in full, click here.