The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has revealed details for all sectors of the gambling industry for the period of May to July 2020, which they say shows a slight fall in the level of online gambling, but an increase in the use of gambling machines in retail premises.
The data regarding gambling consumer habits and operator engagements covers both land based and online gambling for the period. In a statement, the UKGC said that the figures show that the gambling behaviour of UK customers is continuing to evolve.
During the period, the UKGC said that Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) across all online gambling sectors fell by 4%, which represents the first month-on-month fall since April. But despite the decrease, the UKGC say that figures remain above pre-pandemic levels, and that these appear to have been driven by an increase in sports betting demand from June. Sportsbook figures showed the number of bets and active players on sports betting had increased during the period.
At the same time there was a 2% decline in the GGY taken from online slots gaming, which fell to £162 million, while online slot sessions that lasted more than an hour fell by 2%, despite the fact that total consumer interactions recorded by gambling operators rose by 2%. The figures also meant that there was a slight decrease in the average loss for slots players, though this remains higher than both real event betting and casino betting during the period.
UK licensed retail bookmakers reopened their betting premises from June 15th, although the UKGC said that phased openings, varying corporate strategies and local restrictions made it hard to get a precise picture of the retail gambling sector. But they were able to establish that the mix of products taken up in betting shop had shifted to machine betting, a sector in which the length and spend on betting machines had both increased. GGY per session in June was up 37% from the figure for March 2020, to £11.98, and although this dropped to £10.53 in July, this was still higher than the figure of £8.72 for the pre-lockdown period.
At the same time, the Commission found that Over-The-Counter (OTC) consumer interactions in June dropped by 3%, accounting for GGY of 30% during June with gambling machines increasing from 48% to 57% at the same time. Speaking about the changes, the UKGC said that the changes reinforced the importance of its recently issued safer gambling initiatives:
“As retail reflects new customer behaviour we could be seeing a mix of both displacement of activity from OTC to machines with consumers possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals, and the return of only the most engaged individuals.”