UKGC Says Active Gamblers Declined by 7% in March-August

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published detailed consumer data analyzing gamblers’ behavior in the period between March and August, factoring the impact Covid-19 has had on gambling as a whole.

UKGC Posts Consumer Behavior Data for March to August

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has revealed consumer data covering the period between March and August 2020 and analyzing how the Covid-19 outbreak has impacted gambling behavior in Great Britain.

The data provided by the regulator looked into both in-person gambling as well as online gambling habits based on business conducted at Licensed Betting Operators (LBOs) on Britain’s high streets.

Additional consumer research was done to supplement the data and provide a more detailed breakdown of consumer habits during the period. The survey revealed that online marketing dropped slightly during the period and bets declined by 2%.

Out of this decline, real event betting decreased by 12% and the number of consumers participating fell by 7%. According to the data, gross gambling yield dropped by another 12%, although most of these numbers can be linked to the time-off in the English Premier League, the leading soccer event in the country.

The data also looked into slot sessions and specifically registered a decrease with the majority of sessions now not breaking over an hour spent playing. Overall, the decrease in sessions breaking an hour in duration was around 7% and most sessions terminated within 21 minutes, the UKGC said.

Customer interactions undertaken increased by 11% over the period and 4% of those were initiated by staff, slightly worse than July when the same metric stood at 5%. The UKGC argued in the report that gambling behaviors continue to evolve and especially in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak and associated challenges.

Regulators Tighten Restrictions in the UK

The UKGC has continued to offer guidance to operators as how to approach consumers and excessive gambling behavior, pushing for stronger affordability checks, calling on the financial sector to do more, and welcoming suggestions by lawmakers.

Affordability checks were one of the biggest reforms this year, introducing tighter measures at land-based venues to ensure the safety of players. In January 2020, the UKGC also began suspending online casinos and betting operators not on GamStop. This is the UK’s national online self-exclusion program, and it’s now a requirement for all online operators to join GamStop in order to retain their UKGC license. Players are strongly advised from trying to play at gambling sites that go against this.

Apart from introducing a variety of restrictions on the industry as a whole, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already issued restrictions to the land-based sector, beginning shutdowns despite the objections of the Betting and Gaming Council.

While consumer habits remain fairly unchanged, the UK government is preparing tighter reform on the gambling sector. The BGC has called time and again on lawmakers to not over-regulate the industry lest that leads to a dramatic reduction in the tax revenue.

Lawmakers might try to raise the tax, but with gross gaming revenue declining, there will be no source of additional revenue.

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