Online and in-person gambling

UK gambling seeing increases in GGY and customers despite adverse economic factors, UKGC report says

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The United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) has unveiled new data showing how gambling behavior is reacting to current environmental factors in Great Britain. The report comprises the period between March 2020 and June 2022, covering both online and in-person gambling with data from Licensed Betting Operators (LBOs) found on British high streets. The analysis found most variables -including GGY, total bets and spins, and amount of accounts- have seen increases, despite widespread macroeconomic concerns.

The latest update contains operator data up to June 2022, making quarter-on-quarter comparisons between quarter one of the financial year 2022-2023 (April to June) and quarter four of financial 2021-2022 (January to March). As for the latest period, online total Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) was GBP 1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) up to June, an increase of nearly 1% compared to Q4. The overall number of bets/spins increased by 5%

Slots GGY increased 4% to nearly GBP 565 million ($684 million) between Q4 and Q1, with the number of spins escalating 5% to 18.7 billion, while the average monthly active accounts increased 4% to 3.6 million per month. 

The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 5% to 8.4 million between these two periods, with the average session length lasting 17 minutes and 7% of them reaching an hour.

And lastly, GGY for licensed operators increased 6% to GBP 584 million ($707 million) between Q4 and Q1, while the number of total bets and spins increased 3% to 3.3 billion. 

In a press release, the regulator said: “We continue to expect extra vigilance from operators as consumers are impacted in different ways by the circumstances brought on by the pandemic and the wider economic environment."

Many people will still feel vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances or readjusting budgets and time as life returns to normal with a wider set of finance drivers," the UKGC further wrote. 

The regulator stated it expects operators to continue to follow the strengthened guidance issued during the first lockdown, “taking close interest in data that shows consumers expanding their portfolio of games and spending more time or money than before."

Direct interaction where triggers are reached is also expected, as well as avoiding any temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes, “in particular as consumers adjust back to a new normal and be very cautious when seeking to cross-sell products."

Finally, the UKGC encourages operators to take particular care when on-boarding new customers and making decision over affordability checks which reflect the environment the country is currently experiencing. 

The Commission also stated it continues to track market-related risk by accessing the impact of the strengthened guidance issued by operators, as well as monitoring key data along with collecting and publishing this additional data. 

The UKGC is set to take further steps to permanently strengthen regulatory requirements, encompassing changes to Remote Technical Standards and License Conditions and Codes of Practice to protect consumers; as well as monitor operators “very closely” and conduct their compliance assessments. 

This new report follows the issuance of an update on problem gambling last month. Figures released in July show the rates of problem gambling have remained historically low at 0.2% in the first half of the year 2022, down from 0.4% in 2021. However, the survey also showed that participants aged 16-24 are the most vulnerable group, at 0.8%.

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