Report by the British Gambling Commission Shows How COVID-19 Impacted UK Gaming

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The global gaming industry is curious to see, as quickly as possible, the exact impact COVID-19 had on gaming revenue everywhere. Figures are being reported more often, even if they’re sometimes incomplete, as industry players try to determine their next moves. The British Gambling Commission (BGC) had historically issued an annual report on the state of gaming in the UK but decided to present an interim report covering much of the period that casinos were mostly impacted by the pandemic. The results will help shape future gaming decisions by operators and stakeholders but aren’t out of line with what the industry would have expected.

Land-based Gaming Tumbles in the UK

The BGC’s report covers April through September of last year and shows that the total gross gambling yield (GGY) for the industry was $8.36 billion (£5.89 billion). Given that the full year from April 2019 to March 2020 produced a GGY of just over $20 billion (£14.12 billion), the drop is substantial in comparison, resulting in a cut of more than 50% year-on-year gaming revenue for the area.

The biggest hit was received by the land-based segment. Because of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions at the time, some of which were kept in place until only recently, land-based casinos took in approximately $95.14 million (£67 million) during the six-month period, compared to the $1.45 billion (£1.02 billion) they received for the full-year period from April 2019 to March 2020. Land-based bingo dropped significantly, as well, with a GGY of $130.65 million (£92 million). For the previous year, it was $816.61 million (£575.2 million).

iGaming, Sports Gambling Save the Day

As has been seen in other jurisdictions where the activity is legal, online gaming and sports gambling helped save the gambling industry in the UK from complete destruction. iGaming had a total GGY of $4.37 billion (£3.08 billion) during the six-month period, while, in the same period a year earlier, it reported a GGY of $3.99 billion (£2.81 billion). That amounts to a 9.6% gain. Online casinos reported the most growth in the segment, with a 22.7% year-on-year gain. The total take for this segment was $2.75 billion (£1.94 billion).

Curiously, the increased performance by the online gaming segment isn’t represented in the number of online gaming accounts created. There were 15.3 million new accounts added during the period; however, the total number of accounts in September of last year stood at 30.7 million, 300,000 fewer than a year earlier. In addition to the reduction in accounts, the number of online gaming operators dropped, as well. There were 2,689 in March of 2019 but, by last September, there were only 2,522. In contrast, the number of land-based casinos didn’t drop as much, going from 156 last March to 131 in September.

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