Market research shows growth in gambling through easing lockdowns

The number of online active accounts grew by 7% and sportsbooks also saw an increase of 7% in the number of placed bets

The British gambling industry has grown due to the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, as the Gambling Commission’s market research clearly shows. Further data on the matter has been published, showing that in September 2020, after the pandemic measures had been alleviated, the overall turnaround rose significantly.

The data is part of a broader study, regarding the financial behaviour of the market between March 2020 and September 2020. It covers both online and in-person gambling, including sports betting & UK casino sites and it uses a number of metrics, including data provided by Licenced Betting Operators.

Regarding September, the key takes include:

  • There has been a visible growth in online gaming. In comparison to August, gross gambling yield (the amount retained by gambling operators after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of operation costs) increased by 3%.

  • The number of online active accounts grew by 7%. 

  • Sportsbooks saw an increase of 7% in the number of placed bets. This correlates with the return of the Premier League, traditionally the highest betted-on sporting competition in the United Kingdom.

  • The online slots average session lasted 21 minutes, remaining steady, but there was a 3% decrease in the number of sessions with a length of an hour or longer.

The increase in sports betting and the decrease in time spent on online slots shows the tendency of the market to regularize itself. During the hardcore lockdown days, sports betting was decreased by 31-50%, while online casinos experienced unprecedented growth. In fact, previous issues of the Commission’s study showed that during the almost complete absence of sporting action, 57% of bettors placed at least a bet on online casinos. 

At the same time, the amount of money gambled on online casinos between April and June was 71% higher than the same period a year ago, which is explained by three factors:

  • Casual gamblers spent more time isolated at home and tried to find a pleasant pastime.

  • Brick-and-mortar casino regulars found an alternative by gambling online.

  • Sports bettors tried online casinos for practically the first time.

What is also interesting, is a metric coming from abroad. The National Gambling Helpline hasn’t yet published any numbers, but in Finland, Australia, and Canada, gambling helpline phone calls slightly increased during the lockdown, but after the easing of it they dropped by 10-15% in comparison to last year. It remains to be seen if that means that addiction awareness has taken a hit, or if it is just coincidental. 

For the time being, we are entering uncharted territory. Sports betting has returned but at the same time bettors got used to casino games, so it will be interesting to see how the average gambling behaviour shifts in the near future.

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