Online gambling activity in the UK declined during the first two months of 2021, as has been shown in new data published by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
Both active accounts and total bets dropped, while players also did not spend as long online as had been the case in the previous two months.
The regulator has been monitoring online activity over the course of the country’s lockdown, which has continued into the New Year – though restrictions are set to start being lifted next month.
How much did online gambling decrease in the UK?
Overall gross gambling yield (GGY) dropped by 19% in the period of December 2020 to February 2021, with operators slightly surpassing £495 million in revenue between them.
GGY in sports betting fell by a sizeable margin. This declined by 12%, with a 16% drop between January and February. Sports bets in general also fell by 2% in the time period, with 4.7 million active accounts recorded on UK betting sites.
Online slots GGY also fell slightly. GGY reached £177 million, representing a 1% drop. Meanwhile, stake totals also fell; less than £5 billion was wagered in this respect, which was a decline of 7%.
Slots are regarded by the UKGC as the highest risk vertical for customers during the pandemic period. The average session length for these games is 21.5 minutes, and 9% of online sessions surpass the one-hour mark.
In all forms of online gambling, there was a 4% drop in the number of active accounts. Total bets also fell by 6%.
What about safer gambling?
Customer interactions from operators hit a peak in January, before falling by 13% in February. Most of these were automated, rather than from a direct employee.
Direct interactions also peaked in the first month of 2021, before dropping by 5%.
The UKGC also reiterated operators’ responsibilities for player protection during the pandemic. On its website, the regulator said:
“We wrote to operators at the beginning of the recent lockdown to remind them of the guidance we initially issued in May to online operators and their responsibilities during this challenging period for the country.
“We expect them to:
- Continue to follow the strengthened guidance issued during the first lockdown, taking a 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.”