Gambling During the Pandemic Still at High Levels

With more time on our hands, there has been concern about whether that would cause an increase in online gambling. The UK Gambling Commission have been publishing data that shows just how lockdown has impacted how much we gamble online.

Online gambling offers 24/7 betting opportunities to its customers. Even when the pandemic caused sporting fixtures to be put on hold, there was still plenty to gamble on. The English Premier League wasn’t being played but its equivalent in Belarus was. New customers joined sites and eventually the top sporting fixtures returned.

Fast forward to December which has always been a busy period for the gambling industry. There are lots of football games and race meetings to be betting on over the festive period as well as top American sports. It having a lengthy holiday period, there’s more time to be at home indulging in a bit of online gambling.

With the country being in lockdown, figures were again high in December. Slot games proved to be extremely popular in December. The gross gambling yield was up to nearly £200 million. There was also an increase in the number of bets placed, rising to almost £6 billion.

It seems that with boredom setting in during lockdown, people decided to turn to online gambling. The number of active accounts increased and was approaching the 3 million mark. The totals for number of bets placed and active accounts were at the highest since the pandemic began.

Just how long people spend playing online is always an important figure. Time playing slots rose to 2.5 million hours in the November to December period, an increase of 11%. There was a slight fall in the average session for all gambling activity, down to 21.5 minutes. 8% of sessions were over the hour mark.

With lockdown continuing, the UK Gambling Commission are calling on operators to be more vigilant. They realise the problems that lockdown can cause people. Those living on their own will feel the agonies of isolation and possibly become increasingly vulnerable. This can cause them to spend more time gambling online.

With concerns about the number of new customers, the Commission wrote to operators reminding them of their responsibilities during the pandemic. Those had been laid down during the first lockdown. They want there to be a close look at signs of customers playing and gambling more with emails sent when triggers are reached. They do not want to see gambling sites trying to take advantage of the situation with increased advertising trying to get new members.

As lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted, it will be interesting to see future data. If less time is spent at home, will the figures fall? Will those who have began to gamble during lockdown continue to do so when they can return to work?

Those who have been gambling for a fair while may be keen to spend even more time gambling. There is plenty for them to be gambling on. The number of sporting fixtures has been rising again with top football leagues being played around the world. Then there’s all the virtual sports to bet on and an increase in the number of eSports events to place wagers on.

The data has been released as the Commission reaches the end of its gambling consultation. That will play an important part in the planned review of the 2005 Gambling Act. Ongoing data re the levels of online gambling will also play its part in the decisions the government will make in the not to distant future.