UKGC: Pent-up sports demand slows in August 

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published a further ‘market update’ tracking how COVID-19 has impacted gambling behaviours and participation across the UK. 

Since March, the Commission has gathered data from licensed betting operators (retail and online) representing 80% of the UK gambling’s regulated marketplace.

The UKGC has maintained that its market updates reflect how ‘gambling behaviours evolve as the country responds to challenges posed by COVID-19’, underlining the importance of the Commission’s updated guidance to licensed operators.

August’s short break for football and seasonal factors saw online gambling GGY decrease by 12% to an estimated £406 million, attributed to a decrease in sports betting activities.

The UKGC stated that the UK market has seen a quieting of its ‘pent up demand for sports betting’ witnessed during June and July, as August data revealed a 21% drop in online betting GGY to £164 million.

Meanwhile, August online slots play continued to remain stable at a GGY of £164 million, which is in line with June and July trends. However, the figures reflect a significant drop compared to peak participation recorded during March (GGY – £186m) and May (£184m).

With regards to safer gambling indicators, the UKGC stated that consumers ‘engaged in more than one gambling activity’ has decreased to 33% from its April high of 41%.

Furthermore, safer gambling indicators saw online slot sessions lasting longer than one hour decrease by 7% in August, down to circa 1,600,000 sessions.

The Commission’s report also provided its latest market update for retail bookmakers, who were allowed to reopen their venues on 15 June.

Increased over-the-counter (OTC) activity recorded during August accounted for 43% of total retail GGY, up 14% to £71 million (June – £62m).

However, August retail indicators highlighted a 2% drop in machine GGY to £79 million (June – £82m), combined with a further 29% decline in SSBT GGY to £16 million June – £23m).  

Tracking retail impacts, the UKGC underscored that ‘absolute values’ between periods remain imbalanced due to phased openings by operators, local restrictions placed on businesses and further in-store safety requirements.

Closing its update, the UKGC reminded licensed online operators of their customer care duties with regards implementing enhanced due diligence on affordability checks and preventing reverse withdrawals – with guidance issued in the UKGC’s May update.  

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