Fixing the facts: Online slot play went down, not up during lockdown

Fact Check lockdown gaming
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Analysts at Full Fact have set the record straight in correcting alarmist claims that online slot play increased during the period of lockdown. The gap between the popular narrative and the facts remains worryingly large, something that will continue to raise considerable concerns for the broader based gaming sector.


In a damning indictment, fact-checkers at have debunked an alarmist assertion that betting activity on online slot machine products had surged by over quarter during the period of lockdown.

Drawing upon the latest figures released by the Gambling Commission, an article in the Huffington Post last week led with the claim that “Brits took a huge gamble in lockdown – and lost £228m in one month.”

The article went on to claim that “shocking” figures showed a 25 per cent hike in the amount being spent by the public on digital slots.

Full Fact has been quick to rubbish this – countering that “online slots usage has, by most measures, fallen during the lockdown period.”

And the statistics bear this narrative out: with the number of online gambling accounts falling nationwide by 2 per cent between March and April, and by another 5 per cent in May.

But that didn’t stop the Gambling Commission itself from misunderstanding its own data-set: drawing as it did upon the supposed quarter leap in slot play (which in small print it conceded was likely an “inflated” figure) as well as an increase in reverse-withdrawals as evidence of how its update to online gaming guidance earlier this year had been “both appropriate and timely.”

But analysts at Full Fat have begged to differ. “What the 25 per cent rise relates to is the number of people playing online slots in March 2020 compared to a year earlier in March 2019,” they wrote in a report published last week, clearly insinuating that the HP (and regulator) had gotten their wires crossed. “Over the past year the gross gambling yield from online slots has increased by 15 per cent.”

As for the claim that Brits had fluttered £228m away in a single 30-day period? Full Fact was none-the-wiser: saying it was “not clear where HuffPost got this figure.”

In summary, Full Fact therefore concluded that any claim as to an increase in online slot gaming throughout the past few months was “incorrect.”



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