According to new figures from the UK Gambling Commission, data from the biggest operators, covering approximately 80 per cent of the online gambling market, revealed that active players across all but one verticals saw a decline in May of this year.
In comparison to the previous month, real event betting dropped by 24 per cent with 5,127,999 active users, in contrast to the 6,708,655 in April.
Examining the period between March 2020 and May 2021, the data covered both online and, where relevant, some offline gambling operator data, whilst keeping into consideration the fact that land-based premises have only recently been able to re-open due to COVID-19.
The data shows decreased activity in the online market while total bets remained at a similar level. Meanwhile, slots Gross Gambling Yield increased to £211m between April and May, with the number of spins increasing two per cent and the number of active players decreasing by five per cent.
Furthermore, the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by one per cent to just below 2.6m, while the average session length increased to 20.7 minutes, with almost nine per cent of all sessions lasting over an hour.
In a statement, the UKGC said: “It is likely many have picked up new gambling routines and habits during lockdown that may be hard to change as things return to normal, even as normal spending on other things resumes. This could be challenging for some and important for operators to identify through their monitoring.
“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 with high level sporting events taking place over the summer there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble.”
Looking forward, operators are expected to continue to follow the strengthened guidance issued during the first lockdown, taking close interest in data that may show consumers spending more time or money than usual.
In addition, they are expected to interact directly where triggers are reached on top of their more generic email engagement, and avoid exploiting the current situation of the easing of lockdown for marketing purposes – remaining cautious whenever seeking to cross-sell products. Lastly, operators have also been urged to take particular care whenever they onboard new customers as well as when making any decisions over affordability checks.
Meanwhile, the UKGC looks to continue tracking any risks related to the pandemic by: assessing the impact of the strengthened guidance to operators, monitoring and publishing any additional key data, supporting the industry along with the reopening of land-based premises and taking further action to protect customers.