Gambling habits of 140,000 accounts explored in GambleAware research

GambleAware commissioned research has shown that a large majority of active online gambling accounts in the UK spent relatively low amounts, and were used infrequently, throughout the year, while a small proportion were said to be “used extensively and generated substantial losses”.

‘Exploring Online Patterns of Play’ was conducted by the National Centre for Social Research, and looked at the use of 140,000 active gaming and betting accounts between July 2018 and June 2019.

Undertaken to improve understanding of the online gambling market, seven “major” online operators agreed to supply data to be used in the analysis. It is estimated that these capture more than 85 per cent of the online betting market in Great Britain and over 37 per cent in gaming.

The dataset contained 139,152 accounts, of which 86 per cent (110,211) were used for betting during the one-year study period, with 84,572 used for at least one category of gaming during the same timeframe.

Key findings show that 85 per cent of accounts used for betting spent less than £200 over the period documented, while 90 per cent of gaming accounts had either an overall win or loss of less than £500 for the same period.

The five per cent of online accounts with the highest losses were found to have generated a minimum of 70 per cent of GGY in each of betting, virtual casinos, live casinos, and slots.

Pre-match football, in-play football and horseracing accounted for most spending from betting, while slots and casino games accounted for 93 per cent of GGY from igaming.

A total of 72.2 per cent of gaming-active accounts including at least some slots play, to occupy 60 per cent of GGY, with 53 per cent featuring play on virtual casino games and 19.5 per cent on live casino games. Together the latter two provided 33 per cent of operators’ GGY.

It was found that 15 per cent of accounts used for gaming featured bingo participation, though per account spend was low and delivered only 3.6 per cent of GGY.

Moreover, researchers also looked at the use of safer gambling tools, with around four per cent receiving contact from an operator for the purpose of ‘social responsibility’, with 84 per cent of those contacts being made by email.

Of the accounts which lost in excess of £2,000 during the year, around a third (36 per cent) had received a ‘social responsibility’ contact, while 0.84 per cent received a phone call from an operator.

Among safer gambling tools, deposit limits were most widely used by account holders. Around a fifth (21.5 per cent) set deposit limits, whereas, self-exclusion was applied to 2.3 per cent of accounts.

Dr Sokratis Dinos, director of research at NatCen, explained: “This research was able to analyse and assess an unprecedented source of information on how people in Great Britain gamble, and opens up numerous opportunities to further understand people’s gambling habits. 

“These interim findings are just the first stage, and future research will provide a greater opportunity to understand the risk factors associated with gambling behaviour.”

The research only captures the gambling activity of one individual online account, and cannot determine where an individual may have more than one account with different operators.

A second stage of research is planned for the summer, in which a sample of account holders will be contacted and invited to take part in a survey in a bid to better understand the wider context of their gambling behaviour.