Easing of lockdown sees small transfer of play from online to machines, says UKGC

Gambling Commission data figures ease of lockdown transfer
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The latest data from the Gambling Commission indicates that the lifting of lockdown led to gains for landed slots, at the expense of digital equivalents. But only slightly.


New figures released by the Gambling Commission show UK gross gambling yield (GGY) sustained “a slight month-on-month” decrease in July, with a notable step-down in online slot revenue once lockdown restrictions were eased.

Numbers covering all regulated gambling verticals throughout the months of May, June and July detail a 4 per cent contraction in online gambling revenue between June and July: representing the first dip in digital customer spend since the issuing of the stay-at-home order in March.

“Gambling behaviours continue to evolve as the country continues to move out of full lockdown into the autumn months but still provide justification for the Commission’s updated guidance to operators,” read an accompanying statement from the regulator.

The Commission went on to say that heightened vigilance with respect to social responsibility obligations was still required from online operators, with “high levels of GGY” in online betting still exceeding pre-lockdown averages, despite the recent decline in total digital earnings.

Indeed, the data shows a 5 per cent increase in sportsbook bet spend in the four weeks from July 1, with a similar gain (4 per cent) in the total number of active players: a trend which the regulator attributed to the “pent-up demand” of a public starved of sports-betting opportunities throughout the second quarter of the year.

On the landed front, the Commission said that the country’s re-opening had led to something of a boon for machine operators: with all indicators suggesting that “the spend, length and proportion per session in excess of an hour had all increased noticeably since re-opening.” An outcome not particularly considering gaming venues had been closed for several months.

The numbers for June show the average spend per machine play session increasing 37 per cent on the March 2020 median to just shy of £12. Whilst July saw this metric fall to £10.53, the Commission was still keen to underline the fact the this figure was well above the March level of £8.72 – particularly keen considering for nine days of that month every venue in the country was shuttered.

Meanwhile, the contribution of machine revenue to betting retail GGY in June stood at 57 per cent, a 9 point climb on the May ratio, which the GC attributed to a customer-base “possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals” – rather than the more obvious explanation that they were unable to do so due to national lockdown rules, and, surprise, surprise, the fact that land-based bookies were actually closed for the whole of May.

All of which makes meaningful conclusions somewhat meaningless and fairly obvious. .

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