UKGC warns that ‘extra operator vigilance continues to be needed’

The latest data from the UK Gambling Commission has revealed that through January and February, activity in the online market declined following a traditionally busy period in December. 

Data published by the UKGC, highlighting how further tightening of COVID-19 lockdown measures has impacted online gambling behaviour in Great Britain, saw a decrease of four per cent in active accounts and six per cent in bets, while gross gambling yield decreased by 19 per cent from December to February. 

In a media release, the regulator noted that against the backdrop of this data and its own experience of the pandemic so far, ‘extra operator vigilance continues to be needed’ during the current national lockdown conditions. 

Providing reasons for this decision, it read:

  • Most people will be spending more time at home and online and many people are likely to be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, the new restrictions and further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances.
  • We know that some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling and the fact that sport will continue during this lockdown will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble.
  • We know that some people may gamble for the first time.

Within the same time period, the slots GGY decreased by one per cent to nearly £177m with the number of bets also decreasing by seven per cent – below nine million – while the number of active accounts remained steady after peaking at three million in January. 

The number of slot sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by one per cent, to 2.5 million, between December and February after peaking in January at 2.6m – up four per cent since December. 

The average session length remains consistent at 21.5 minutes with around nine per cent of all sessions lasting more than one hour. 

The UKGC noted that, at the beginning of the recent lockdown, it wrote to operators to remind them of the guidance which was issued in May to online operators and their responsibilities during the pandemic. 

Furthermore, the regulatory body stated it expects operators to continue to follow the strengthened guidelines, interact directly where triggers are reached and avoid any temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes.