UKGC Concerned About Increase in Gambling After Lockdown
The UKGC has revealed data post-lockdown and it shows that players are accessing gaming machines more than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The year 2020 has been an odd one. Early on, the COVID-19 outbreak hit the world and non-essential businesses were shut down to try and slow the spread of the deadly virus. This included casinos and other gambling style venues. In the UK, casinos and gambling halls were shut down for quite some time and have just recently been back in business. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) just revealed a few data points and have found that while online gambling spending is down, players are spending more via sports betting and there is an increase in machine interactions post-lockdown.
The UKGC tracks a ton of data regarding the gambling industry. Recent reports show that July saw a month to month decrease when it came to the amount spent by consumers regarding online gambling. Along with this data, the regulator looked at consumer habits as well as an engagement via operator for digital and land-based gaming from May to July.
In a statement, the UKGC said that gambling behavior continues to change as the country moves out of full lockdown into the fall. The behavior of consumers still justifies the updated guidance to operators by the Commission.
From June to July, the online gambling verticals decreased by 4%. This was the first decrease since April. However, the UKGC says the total figures in the gambling industry in the UK are above pre-covid levels due to a pent-up demand by consumers. Basically, the UKGC feels that because players did without gambling for so long, they are making up for lost time post-lockdown.
Licensed retail bookmakers in the UK reopened their facilities starting on June 15. The Commission was able to collect retail data from the largest providers and stated that the absolute values could not be comparable to older data because the openings were phased and there are local restrictions to take into account along with individual strategies based on a corporate level.
The retail analysis of the UKGC basically covers the share of spend across the available products and based on the retail performance. On a retail level, the UKGC said that consumers are shifting towards machines. The data showed that the spend as well as length of time played was increased. Players are spending more than an hour per session and this is an increase in gaming since reopening post-lockdown.
According to the UKGC, the machine engagements have increased by 37% from March of this year. It did decrease in July but still remains higher than the figures from before the lockdown. Over the counter interactions in June decreased by 3% which changed the overall retail revenue makeup.
The UKGC released a safer gambling indicators notice and added that the retail information shows that players are avoiding over the counter activity and moving to machines which could be a sign that players want to limit their contact with other individuals.
The UKGC has been concerned about an uptick in gambling activity, be it online or in person now that venues are opening back up. This goes for casino gaming as well as sports betting. Earlier this year, the regulator proposed changes to slot games such as removing autoplay and quick spin features. They say that the speed of games are a factor that increases gambling harm and addiction.
In the UK, legal matters may cause issue with in-person casino gaming. Lawmakers are currently trying to decide if a 10pm curfew should be instituted for businesses to slow the spread of Covid as young people are going out in groups to drink. The Betting and Gaming Council feel that this curfew should not apply to casinos as they do not target the age group causing the issue.