The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released its May – July 2020 data on consumer gambling habits and operator engagements and performance of all licensed land-based and digital gambling operators in the UK.
The data reveals that online gross gambling yields (GGY) in July have seen a 4% month-on-month decrease in the amount spent by online gambling consumers indicating the first month-on-month fall since April. Despite the decrease, GGY figures remain above pre-COVID levels as spending numbers were supported by pent up demand for sports betting. These numbers were further driven up in June due to the reopening of sports betting markets.
The commission data also details online casino engagements. The data reveals that between June and July there was a 2% (£162 million) decline in online slot GGY. The data also reveals that online slot sessions lasting longer than an hour also decreased by the same amount despite a 2% increase in total consumer interactions. The commission expressed its opinion on that matter saying that this increase of inactive players and a slight decrease in overall GGY in July indicates a small decrease in average loss per player. Although the average loss figure for slots is still meaningfully higher than any other online gambling product where operators stand to lose £66 for slots versus £50 for real event betting and £37 for casino during July.
Though the commission has revealed such numbers, it has highlighted that the reopening of bookmakers from June 15 onwards skews the results slightly despite having collected data from the largest operators. Consequently, it has focused its analysis on share spend across shop products over absolute retail performance values as it has underlined that absolute values are not directly comparable due to phased openings, local restrictions and individual corporate strategies. The commission also adds that data from subsequent months will be needed to help to build a more robust set of comparative data, post premises reopening.
Speaking about retail performance, the commission has noted that the product mix has shifted more towards machines as its indicators reveal that the spend, length and proportion per session in excess of an hour has all increased noticeably since reopening. The commission’s data reveal that machine GGY per session in June has increased by 37% from March 2020 to £11.98, decreasing to £10.53 in July. Despite the decrease, the GGY figure is still higher than the pre-lockdown figure of £8.72.
The commission also revealed its numbers on customer experiences over-the-counter ( OTC). The data indicates a decrease of 3% in June, shifting retail sales that saw OTC contribute GGY by 30% in June, while GGY machines increased from 48%t to 57% in the same period.
In its Safer Gambling Indicators Note, the UKGC highlighted the above shift as a concern, stating that as retail reflects new customer behaviour we could be seeing a mix of both displacements of activity from OTC to machines with consumers possibly wanting to limit contact with other individuals and the return of only the most engaged individuals.