May Data Highlights Impact of COVID-19

May Data Highlights Impact of COVID-19

In a new press release, the Gambling Commission has published data that shows how COVID-19, more pertinently the lockdowns associated with it in Britain, has impacted online gambling patterns in the country.

Based on operator data shared with the governing body, the stats show that the period from March 2020 through to May 2021 shows that online and offline gambling behaviours have changed.

May Operating Data

In the press release, the Commission points out that they don’t believe it is always advisable to compare year-on-year stats between 2020 and 2021, based on operating circumstances being very different.

That said, May’s operating data still makes for interesting reading. Also published was the Commission’s related qualitative consumer research, conducted by 2CV and containing questions addressed to gamblers about their habits during the global pandemic.

The data highlights:

  • Online gambling activity decreased in May. Active accounts and gross gambling yield decreased by 14% and 5%, respectively.
  • Gross yield on slots went up from April to May, reaching £211 million, the number of spins increasing by 2% but the active player numbers falling by 5%.
  • Online slots sessions lasting more than one hour went down by 1%, the average session length decreasing to 20.7 minutes.

Qualitative Research

The qualitative research commissioned appears to support the themes of similar research in the past. This shows that many of those questioned have not ostensibly changed their online gambling behaviour. Naturally, many have been less willing or less able to gamble in brick-and-mortar betting locations.

The research shows that some participants now report spending more on gambling than before, while they also have used the lockdown period to experiment more with new gambling products.

It is perhaps to be expected that those who wish to gamble have now picked up new habits and routines, something recognised by the Gambling Commission. As people get back to work and can now attend sporting events and nightclubs, their spending will have to change.

With that, the Commission has highlighted what they expected their operators to do in terms of their monitoring of the gambling public.

What the Commission Expects from Gambling Operators

The changing landscape following Britain’s “Freedom Day” means operators are being watched by the Commission very closely. They have been told the Commission expects them to:

  • Continue to adhere to the guidance issued during the initial lockdown, watching data that shows customers playing more games and spending more money.
  • Interact with customers directly when certain triggers are reached.
  • Avoid exploiting the current situation for marketing purposes.
  • Take extra care when introducing new customers, especially concerning affordability checks.

During this time for its part, the Commission will continue to track risks related to COVID-19 by assessing the impact of the new guidance it has issued to operators. It will also monitor key data, publish it regularly, and support the land-based industry as it re-opens and continue to take action to protect vulnerable customers.

The last sixteen months have naturally been challenging for all in the industry, not necessarily in terms of profit but in terms of monitoring data that we know is not normal and will change again this year.

It will be interesting to see whether or not those who have now got used to playing and/or spending more can or will continue to do that as more and more other spending options open up after lockdown.

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