New GC report suggests the industry is bouncing back

  • Updated
  • By Max Wright
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This past weekend, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers opened their doors to the British public after being closed for over 3 months due to COVID-19 fears and the government lockdown. Despite claiming to be ready for nearly a month, casinos have been totally ignored in the governments plans to reopen, but how did this closure of casinos and bookies affect the industry?

The latest customer activity figures from the Gambling Commission have been released and show that gambling was on the rise between April and May, right in the middle of the lockdown period. The figures were collected from a YouGov poll and data from UK operators, which covers more than 80% of the industry.

For context, the figures shown here cover the entire selection of the British public who were surveyed. A 1% increase might not seem like much, but remember that 1% of the population of the UK is around 666,000. Now let’s look at some data!

The previous report that covered March - April suggested that less people were gambling during lockdown and those who were were spending more money on slots and online casino sites. Slots saw a rise in popularity from 1.8% of the public to 2.2% in May, and casino games saw a 0.4% increase too. The 4% decrease in people who gambled during this period is likely due to the drought in sporting events to bet on over the period. 

Key figures from the latest report (covering April - May):

  • 68.2% of those polled said they hadn’t gambled in the past 4 weeks
  • This is down from 70.3% in the previous report, suggesting the return of sports is tempting gamblers back
  • The operator data suggests that the number of gamblers is actually down 1.2% month on month
  • However, the gross gambling yield (GGY) on slots games is up 9.0% to £184.3m
  • Casino games GGY is also up 1.2% too, earning £77.9m in the period
  • Online poker peaked in April, but revenue dropped 8.6% in May 

These figures pushed the GC to implement some changes in May to protect players. New guidance was put in place last month to protect potential victims of gambling harm, which included the blocking of withdrawal reversals. Withdrawal reversals were up 25.2% in May compared to April, meaning more players were changing their mind and potentially losing their winnings.

Operators have also been told that they must contact players who had been playing for longer than an hour at a time, to get ahead of any gambling related harm. This change was implemented after 2.3m people had gambling sessions longer than an hour, a peak for the industry. Remember, it's important to keep track of time when you're gambling.