Since the first UK lockdown in March 2020, COVID-19 has continued to have an impact on everyone’s lives. However, the ever-changing restrictions on where we can go and who we can meet has also affected the way in which people are gambling online.
Throughout the pandemic, the UK Gambling Commission has been eager to understand the risks to British consumers so that it can help to protect them. It, therefore, collects monthly data from UK gambling operators that allows it to identify gambling trends on a week-by-week basis.
The latest set of data that the Commission has released is for November 2020 – a month which saw England enter a four-week lockdown while people in Wales got to enjoy a relaxation of restrictions following the nation’s two-week-long firebreak.
Although the Gambling Commission’s data doesn’t show the levels of gambling activity for each of the four nations, we can assume that those who were impacted the most during November 2020 lived in England due to the stay-at-home orders.
The data reflects a small increase in activity in the online gambling market, with a 4% increase in bets and a 3% increase in active player accounts.
Slots revenues also rose by 3% to around £177m while the average session length increased by 1 minute. In addition, more players gambled on slots for over an hour than they did the month before, with the data showing a 3% rise from October.
After reviewing the latest data, the UK Gambling Commission believes that “extra operator vigilance” is still required as the whole of the United Kingdom is now under full lockdown.
With non-essential businesses having to close, this means that betting shops, bingo halls, and casinos are not allowed to open. However, with almost all the population (bar key workers) being subject to stay-at-home restrictions, the temptation for people to gamble online is increased, and this is likely to remain a significant concern for the UKGC for some time to come.