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UKGC: How COVID-19 Influenced British Gambling Sector

16 July 2021, 14:45
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The British Gambling Commission has analyzed the gambling behavior of the public during the pandemic overall and specifically in May 2021, publishing the results and the gathered operational data in the most recent casino news.

UKGC: How COVID-19 Influenced British Gambling Sector

The study reveals the increase in the players’ gambling activity during the pandemic, with half of the respondents reporting a rise in the amount of time spent on gambling, whereas many haven’t changed their gambling habits at all. Find out more about the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on the players’ gambling patterns and the iGaming market in general.

Young people are more likely to gamble during the pandemic

Although the global lockdown gave a chance for players to reflect on their spending and gambling habits, for many this did not result in any decrease in the time and money spent on gambling. The UKGC found out that the younger respondents were more likely to increase their gambling activity and spending with less concern about the change in their gaming patterns.

The gambling authority lists the following reasons as primary for such a change in the gambling market:

  • the high accessibility of online gambling;
  • an increased amount of free time and a lack of other entertainment activities;
  • many also justify the increased gambling with a lack of other expenses.

Furthermore, the online casino’s heavy reliance on credit card payments in the iGaming industry made it harder to track the gambling costs for many players, resulting in more money spent on the iGaming.

For the minority of the players, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought financial uncertainty or even a serious decrease in income. Some of the respondents also reconsidered the role of gaming in their lives, some just didn’t want to gamble alone. Hence, this group spent less time and money on gambling activities.

Almost half of the surveyed have noticed the increased negative feeling towards gambling during the pandemic. UKGC also warns that it may be challenging for many players to change newly adopted habits as the COVID restrictions are lifted and life goes back to “normal”.

The change in gambling behavior for May 2021

gambling covid

The Gambling Commission also provided monthly operation data for May 2021, exploring the impact the altered COVID-19 regulations had on the gambling behavior of Brits. The lockdown guidelines were eased up in late February, allowing for bigger groups of people to socialize. Further changes came in the beginning of April and May with the betting venues and land-based casinos reopening.

With regulations loosening up, the total number of active players decreased in almost every iGaming vertical. This may be linked to more leisure opportunities and offline betting events available for the public.

As for the gross gambling yield (GGY), May has shown strong margins for real events. The total GGY, nevertheless, decreased by 5% in comparison with April. The further data reflects on month-on-month changes in iGaming sectors in May 2021.

Gambling vertical

 GGY

Number of active players

Number of bets

Online gambling

-5% (£533m)

-14%

+1%

Slots

+5% (£221m)

-5% (3.07m)

+2%

Casino

-8% (£65m)

The same as in April

-2%

Betting (real events)

-11% (£238m)

-24% (5.13m)

-13%

Betting (virtual events)

-5% (£7m)

-8% (231k)

-10%

The UK gambling commission urges operators to be mindful towards players, as their expenses on the more intensive products might grow in the upcoming months.

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