Last week, the UK Gambling Commission shared additional data on the impact of the stricter Covid-19 measures on the online gambling industry in Great Britain. The data that was published covers the months between March and December 2020 and it includes data both from online and offline gambling. In December, all land-based gambling facilities were forced to close down again, which played a major role in the gambling industry in the UK.
The December Lockdown Led to a Gambling Activity Increase
While December is traditionally a busy period for the gambling industry in the UK, the data for the end of 2020 shows a significant increase in active accounts, marking a 6% of month-on-month growth. Meanwhile, the bets placed by players and punters during the same period surged by 12%. Since the strict Covid-19 measures came into effect yet again in December, the gross gambling yield (GGY) also increased by 30%.
The December data that was published by the Commission shows that the slots GGY also reached a peak of £200 million, representing a surge of 13%. The number of bets placed on slots also marked a 12% increase, amounting almost to 6 billion. Meanwhile, the number of active accounts also surged by 6%, reaching nearly 3 million. The data for the number of bets and active accounts shows the highest increase in December, taking into consideration the entire period of the pandemic during 2020.
The Commission also revealed that during November and December, UK players tend to spend more online slots sessions that last over one hour. The data showed that the number of the longer sessions reached 2.5 million, showing an 11% increase. Meanwhile, the average length of gaming sessions increased slightly, reaching 21.5 minutes, with the overall sessions that exceeded 1 hour totalling 8%.
Reasons for Extra Measures During The Lockdown Period
The data shows that there is an urgent need for better regulation, with operators asked to comply with certain measures to protect UK gamblers during the trying times of the pandemic. The UK Gambling Commission believes that there are several important reasons why operators must be more cautious during the national lockdown period.
Since most UK residents are spending more time at home, they tend to increase the time they spend online, making them feel more vulnerable and isolated. These feelings can deepen as people become more uncertain about their personal life and financial stability due to the lengthy pandemic period and the national lockdown.
The data shows that avid gamblers who tend to bet on different products spend even more time gambling online. The fact that sporting events will not be cancelled during the lockdown period gives bettors even more opportunities for online betting.
Another concern of the Commission is that due to the strict Covid-19 measures in the UK, many individuals may try online gambling for the first time. This is just another reason why operators need to be more careful and comply with the latest restrictions imposed by the UK Gambling Commission.
UK Gambling Commission Reminding Operators the Guidelines They Need to Follow
As the UK re-established a lockdown regime in December, the Gambling Commission decided to remind gambling operators of the guidelines they were supposed to follow back in May when it was the first lockdown during the pandemic.
Online operators are expected to continue following the strengthened guidance that was published back in May, helping the Commission collect data on the increased consumption of games and the time length that is spent in gaming sessions online.
Gaming companies are required to review all thresholds and triggers that indicate vulnerable players who may increase the amount of money they bet online or spend more time placing wagers on online casino games or sports betting. Operators should pay special attention to thresholds and triggers that should be reset on a regular basis, as a precaution that will allow vulnerable customers to identify the risk of online gambling.
The Gambling Commission expects online operators to react when specific triggers and thresholds are reached. The Commission is also pleading with gaming operators to refrain from the temptation to take advantage of the current situation for their own gain. This is especially true when gambling-related websites are applying cross-selling strategies. The Commission also extended the plea to online operators to be extra careful with any new customers and make sure to imply affordability checks that can help new players avoid gambling risks that are more common in the current environment.