Publishing its ‘2020/2021 Annual Report & Accounts’ – period ending March 31 – The UK Gambling Commission has cited the tough regulatory climate in governing UK gambling under the circumstances of the global pandemic.
As a result, the Commission implemented a stricter compliance regime on licensed online gambling operators – requiring more stringent customer affordability, source-of-fund and ID verification checks as well as an increase in one-to-one customer care interventions.
Supported by the oversight of the newly established Lived Experience Advisory Panel, the Commission expressed greater confidence in its policy outcomes. With rule changes aimed at protecting consumers from engaging in higher gambling risks, operators had to improve their online safety provisions, reduce game design risks and to clean up their VIP schemes.
However, despite the challenges, the UKGC issued in excess of over ‘£30m in fines and regulatory settlements’ during last year.
Noting a slight decline of 0.6 per cent in total gross gambling yield to £14.2bn, the pandemic year registered approximately 22.1m gambling consumers, down 2.6m from 2019 results.
However, the Commission also outlined the heightened uptake of online gambling – which registered a 1.3m increase in new consumers to 12.1m – underlining the UKGC’s importance for extra vigilance.
Increased online participation, with a strong take-up of mobile gambling products, saw online gambling GGY – excluding lotteries – register record results of £5.6bn (eight per cent more).
A sign that the sector’s consumer engagement had become of vital importance, the UKGC highlighted market feedback in which 29 per cent of consumers believed that ‘gambling was conducted in a fair manner’.
As the pandemic evolved the way bettors interacted with gambling and safer gambling tools, 2020/2021 saw a one per cent increase in gamblers that had chosen to self-exclude as reports revealed that approximately 245,000 adults in England were identified as problem gamblers – with 1.2m English adults indexing as low-risk profiles.
Closing its year-end accounts, the UKGC declared an operating loss of £19.3m in spite of the industry’s digitalisation – a figure which excludes £20m in direct grants funded by the National Lottery.