New UKGC Report Highlights How Lockdown Affected Gambling Behaviour
A new report from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has highlighted how lockdowns across the United Kingdom affected gambling behaviour between January and February 2021.
The new report, released last week, covers online and some offline gambling despite most brick-and-mortar gambling venues being closed since December. According to the Commission, the report found a decline in online gambling activity throughout the first two months of 2021.
In addition, the UKGC found a 4% decrease in active accounts and a 6% decrease in overall bets. Meanwhile, the report found a 19% decrease in gross gambling yield (GGY) between December 2020 and February 2021. During the same period, slots GGY dropped 1% to nearly £177 million, and the number of bets made fell by 7%, but the number of active accounts remained steady after peaking at 3 million in January.
What’s more, the UKGC found that the number of online slots sessions lasting for more than an hour between December and February also decreased by 1% to 2.5 million after peaking in January at 2.6 million (Up 4% from December). The Commission reports that the average slot session length remains at 21.5 million while around 9% of all sessions last more than an hour.
Despite the drop in GGY and in online activity, the Commission has warned that extra operator vigilance is still required amidst the UK’s lockdown. The regulatory body points out in its report that most people will still be spending time at home and online, and many will be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the pandemic and ongoing restrictions.
The UKGC also states that some users, including “highly engaged gamblers”, are likely to spend more time and money gambling than usual and that other people may try gambling for the first time during lockdown, which is why the Commission has stressed the importance of operator vigilance.
In its report, the Gambling Commission then laid out what it expects of gambling operators, instructing them to continue following the strengthened guidance the Commission issued in May 2020, to interact with customers directly when triggers are reached, and to avoid the temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes.
Meanwhile, the Commission has stated what it is doing to track Covid-19 related risks. It will continue to assess the impact of its strengthened guidance, support the industry as land-based venues face changing restrictions, take particular care when on-boarding new customers, and it will monitor, collect and publish key data.
Alongside the above, the regulatory body has vowed to continue taking steps to permanently strengthen its regulatory requirements by making changes to ts Remote Technical Standards (RTS) and License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) to protect customers. It will also monitor operators closely and conduct compliance assessments when necessary.
The news comes after the UKGC fined gambling operator In Touch Games after discovering multiple failings. In addition, the regulatory body has fined Casumo for multiple failings and suspended Football Index’s operating license as the company went into administration.
New Study Reveals Gambling Industry’s Contribution To UK Economy
Meanwhile, a new study has revealed how much the gambling industry contributes to the UK’s economy. The study, conducted by Ernst & Young for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), revealed that members of the BGC contributed £7.7 billion to the UK’s economy in 2019.
The Ernst & Young (EY) report found that in 2019, BGC members directly employed 61,000 people with an additional 58,000 jobs created by their supply chains. What’s more, the report found that 19% of those employed in the industry were under 25 and around 51% were under 35, suggesting that the industry provides plenty of entry-level jobs for young people. Meanwhile, 22,000 of the 61,000 jobs were based in the North of England and Scotland, and 15,000 were based in London.
Alongside the above, BGC members reportedly contributed £3.2 billion in tax to the Exchequer in 2019, accounting for 0.4% of all Treasury revenue, and the report highlights how BGC members also contribute at least £40 million a year to the English Football League and its clubs with a further £10 million to darts and snooker, and over £2.5 million for the rugby league.
Michael Dugher, the Chief Executive of the BGC, said in a statement: “At a time of economic fears and huge pressures on public finances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the huge contribution betting and gaming makes to UK plc could not be more important. This latest, authoritative report by EY sets out in black and white the vital role they play in helping to fund the public services upon which we all rely.
“As the standards body representing the regulated industry, the BGC fully supports the Government’s Gambling Review plus the need for continued higher safer gambling standards and more change to regulation. However, it is vital that the Government get those changes right and does nothing to put at risk the future jobs and tax take of a growing, world-leading British industry.”
Brigid Simmonds, the Chair of the BGC, added: “From hospitality to high streets, the betting and gaming industry makes a huge contribution to the UK economy. Casinos in London alone contribute £120 million to the tourism sector, and look forward to being open once again. The contribution made to the Treasury by the betting and gaming sector, its support for sport and the jobs they offer to young people, so many of them highly skilled, are absolutely vital, especially in these uncertain times.”
The release of the report comes as the Government continues to carry out its review of the Gambling Act 2005, starting with a call for evidence until March 31, 2021. Ministers are expected to produce a White Paper on the future regulation of the gambling industry later this year.