UKGC finds no evidence of “significant increased gambling activity” during pandemic period

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published an update of its ongoing monitoring of gambling activity behaviours in the UK for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Land-based betting operators were exempted from November’s statistics collection, due to their closure after additional lockdown measures were introduced. 

In its research so far, the country’s regulator has found no significant long-term rise in gambling activity. 

Real-event betting levels out after October spike 

In November 2020, operators’ gross gaming yield (GGY) declined by 13% month-on-month. This was primarily because of real-event sports betting returning to normal levels after an October jump. 

Online betting activity did go up slightly, with a 3% rise in the number of active player accounts. The total number of bets also went up by 4% to 5.2 billion.

Online slots generated 3% more revenue month-on-month, coming up to a total of £177 million. 

Players spending a little longer online 

Between October and November last year, the length of online sessions increased a little too. On average, users spent 22 minutes online. This was one minute higher than in the previous period. 

Around 8% of all sessions lasted more than an hour. 2.2 million people spent more than 60 minutes betting online in a single session, which was a 3% increase compared to the previous period. 

UKGC reiterates lockdown risks 

With the UK in the midst of another strict lockdown, the Commission has reiterated its warnings for operators when it comes to player protection. 

The regulator is reminding operators to pay closer to attention for the following reasons.

  • People will be spending more time at home. 
  • The length of the pandemic is causing more uncertainty related to both financial and personal issues. 
  • More people are feeling isolated and vulnerable. 
  • The continuation of sport during this lockdown will mean that more gambling opportunities are present. 
  • Some people will likely gamble for the first time. 

How is the UKGC monitoring the risk to players during lockdown?

Throughout COVID-19, the UKGC has reiterated its guidance to operators and provided new information where necessary. It has also been measuring how effective this guidance has been and making changes in accordance with that. 

The Commission has also been collecting a wide range of data about betting behaviours and trends. This data has then been published and distributed online. 

Also taken into consideration are the extra problems that restrictions have caused to land-based businesses. Where additional protection for vulnerable people has been identified, the UKGC has also sought to address this.


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