Last week, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published additional data on the impact of easing COVID-19 measures on the gambling behaviour of UK citizens. The UKGC also participated in the IAGR Conference 2021, with Executive Director Tim Miller speaking about regulatory disruption. Last week, the IAGR also hosted the 2021 International Regulatory Awards where the UKGC was given the Regulatory Excellence Award.
July Data Shows How Easing Lockdown Measures Affects Gambling Behaviour
Last week, the UKGC published additional data that revealed the impact the lift of measures had on the gambling behaviour of British people. The newly published results include the period from March 2020 to July 2021, basing its numbers on the data collected by online operators.
While it is not advisable to make a year-over-year comparison as the operations during 2020 and 2021 were very different, the data allows us to draw several conclusions based on the data for July 2021. Over that period, the number of active players was generally the same while there was a 5% surge in bets and an 8% drop in gross gambling yield (GGY).
When compared to the results from June, the July data shows a 4% increase in slots GGY, reaching £187 million. There was a 6% increase in the number of spins and the active players surged by 1%. Meanwhile, the slots sessions that lasted longer than one hour jumped by 4%, reaching 2.4 million. The typical length of sessions remained at 19 minutes, while about 8% of sessions were surpassing the one-hour mark.
The regulatory body recognized the need for online operators to continue to protect vulnerable individuals as the extensive lockdown period still has an impact on gambling behaviour. Even though some of the restrictions are being lifted, some players most probably picked up gambling as a habit during the lockdowns. This is why it can be difficult to return to their usual daily routines without the cooperation of online operators.
As a way to ensure better protection for players as the Covid-19 measures are being lifted, the Commission expects operators to follow through with current regulations. They will be required to continue complying with the guidelines issued during the first lockdown and pay close attention to players who increase their engagement or the money they spend for online wagers. Operators are also asked to take additional measures to protect vulnerable individuals instead of only relying on standard email support.
The Commission calls on all operators to refrain from taking advantage of the current situation to gain a bigger profit. Gambling companies are asked to properly assess new members and employ affordability checks that are suitable for the current environment in the UK.
UK Gambling Commission Participates in IAGR Conference 2021 and Receives Regulatory Excellence Award
Last week, the UKGC’s Executive Director Tim Miller delivered a speech on ‘Regulatory Disruption: The case for international collaboration’ at the 2021 IAGR Conference. Miller outlined the current issues arising from the internationalisation in the gambling sector. He noted that while some companies were once operating only in specific jurisdictions, nowadays most operators are transnational. One of the challenges that the UKGC is facing is to make sure that it will properly regulate operations in the UK while still ensuring the same companies will not lose interest in offering gambling services to British players and punters.
As gambling in the UK in 2021 may have different forms, the UKGC is striving to properly protect every consumer, while utilizing various regulatory tools. The regulator expects all companies licensed to operate in the UK, whether they do or do not offer services in other jurisdictions, to be fully compliant with the UKGC regulations.
Miller ensured that the Commission will continue to work closely with other regulatory bodies in jurisdictions across Europe and North America. He believes that the new regulations implemented by fellow regulators will also have an impact on the UK gambling market. This is why the Commission is willing to continue to engage with markets in Canada, the United States as well as European jurisdictions.
Last week, the UKGC also received the Regulatory Excellence Award at the 2021 International Regulatory Awards, hosted by the IAGR. The award was given for the regulator’s Industry Challenges initiative that was concerned with ensuring better protection from gambling-related harm. The UKGC called on operators to focus on three different areas, to further improve the protection of vulnerable individuals. Those three factors include VIP programs and high-value customers, the design of gaming products, and the use of Ad-tec to prevent children, young individuals, and vulnerable people from accessing gambling advertisements.