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    Default UKGC releases latest report on COVID-19 effect on gambling

    Last week, the Gambling Commission published its latest data showing how the COVID-19 lockdown measures have impacted online gambling in Great Britain.

    The operator data reflects the period between March 2020 and April 2021, and covers both online and, where relevant, some offline gambling operator data, noting that land-based premises have only recently been able to open, since closing in December.

    From the report:
    The latest online operator data for April 2021 shows:

    • Activity in the online market increased with the presence of the Grand National, with an increase on March of 4% in active accounts1 and 3% in gross gambling yield (GGY), although the number of bets decreased by 2%.
    • Slots GGY remained relatively flat at 202m during the period from March to April. The number of bets and active players both decreased 1%.
    • The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 4% (to 2.6m). The average session length decreased to 20.2 minutes, with nearly 8% of all sessions lasting more than one hour.

    Against the background of this data, and our experience of the pandemic period so far, extra operator vigilance continues to be needed. Although the easing of restrictions is beginning to take place, operators still need to be mindful that:

    • People will still be spending more time at home and online and many people are likely to be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, the restrictions that are still in place and further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances.
    • We know that some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling and with high level sporting events taking place over the next few months will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble.
    • We know that some people may gamble for the first time.
    The UKGC added that "it is not advisable to make year-on-year comparisons between months in 2020 and months in 2021, due to differing operating circumstances of 2020 and 2021" and that it expects operators to "continue to follow the strengthened guidance issued during the first lockdown, taking close interest in data that shows consumers expanding their portfolio of games and spending more time or money than before."

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