A third of past four-week gamblers have tried one or more gambling activities for the first time

UK lockdown: overall gambling down, more time and money spent by engaged players

Over half of engaged gamblers – meaning those who have participated in three or more gambling activities in the last four weeks - have tried one or more gambling activities for the first time during lockdown.
2020-06-12
Reading time 2:03 min
The UK Gambling Commission released Friday further data showing the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on gambling. Overall active player accounts saw a 5% decrease between March and April, driven substantially by real event betting, with active players down 55%. There was an increase in the average number of bets per customer on some products.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) released Friday further data showing the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on gambling behaviour.

The data reflects the first full month of lockdown in April, and shows that overall participation has decreased but some engaged players are spending more time and money gambling on certain products. 

In the four waves of the YouGov survey conducted from 16 April to 7 May, it was found that past-four-week gambling participation remained relatively stable, with the exception of significant decreases in participation in National Lottery draws and sports betting, and a significant increase in those playing National Lottery online instant win games.

Operator data on overall active player accounts indicates a 5% decrease between March and April 2020, driven substantially by real event betting (active players down 55%), and reflecting the lack of top-quality sport during April.

During April 2019, 26% of consumers appeared to engage in more than one online activity, a figure which rose to 42% during April 2020. The YouGov research shows that around a third of past four-week gamblers say they have tried one or more gambling activities for the first time during lockdown. This figure rises to over half (54%) of engaged gamblers – meaning those who have participated in three or more gambling activities in the last four weeks – with 18% of this group having tried betting on virtual races or sports and a similar proportion trying out online bingo for the first time during the last four weeks.

Overall gamblers claim to be playing products at the same rate or less, but a majority of those who have participated in 3 or more gambling activities in the last four weeks claim to be spending more time or money on one or more activities. This is reflected in the growth in the average number of bets per customer on some products.

Between March and April 2020, the average session length reported by operators has not changed. Within that, the number of sessions which lasted more than one hour increased to 2,274,521. This means that the proportion of sessions lasting more than one hour remains at around one in eight.

This latest data was collected from the largest online operators and the YouGov Covid-19 tracker.  It is consistent with the first set of data, published by the UKGC on 12 May, after which the regulator issued updated guidance to operators which included the need for improved affordability checks, the prevention of reverse withdrawals and restrictions on bonus offers. 

The data was taken from YouGov’s Covid-19 tracker, which covers a representative sample of nearly 2,000 adults in the UK each week, and from submissions of the biggest operators, covering approximately 80% of the entire online gambling market.

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