UKGC Shows Casuals are Betting During Lockdown, Problem Gambling Not an Issue

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More people are betting online during the coronavirus-related lockdown, but not in a harmful way according to data from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

A UKGC report shows that gambling activity in the UK is up during the lockdown period, but not in a negative way. (Image: EveryMatrix)

When the British government implemented a national lockdown on March 23, the UKGC was quick to respond. As the regulator of all betting and gaming in the UK, it issued a warning to operators that infractions wouldn’t be tolerated.

The call for vigilance, in tandem with increased funding, was made in anticipation of more people betting online. That message seems to have been received loud and clear as the stats show no significant increase in problem gambling over the past two months.

Online Gambling Shift Hasn’t Been Negative

UKGC chief executive Neil McArthur noted that there has been “shift in the market as a result of Covid-19.” However, the changes haven’t caused problems in regard to the amount of time or money being spent on betting.

The YouGov survey of 2,339 adults also shows an uptick in the number of people gambling for the first time during the lockdown period.

Looking at people betting for the first time ever, 20.3% bought tickets for the National Lottery. In contrast, 2.2% tried slots, casino games, or poker for the first time.

That’s interesting given the upswing casino and poker sites have experienced over recent weeks. While the survey shows a definite increase in new players, casual consumers have gravitated more toward other betting options, such as lotteries.

Those stats tally with the total amount spent on gambling between March 23 and April 23. Lottery draws top the list at 24.8% of all spending, while slots, casino games, and poker are responsible for just 2.4%.

Data Suggests Casual Consumer Activity has Increased

The main positive to come out of the research is that the increased activity hasn’t resulted in undesirable spending patterns.

Only 3% of online casino and poker players said they’d spent more time online during lockdown than before. In this regard, operators have continued to act in a responsible manner. The data also points to more interest in gambling from casual consumers.

Lotteries tend to occupy their own section of the industry. Because they’re often used to generate revenue for local governments or charities, they’re considered a “social” form of gambling. Therefore, the rise in lottery ticket sales suggests the casual demographic has been more active than usual.

This could be valuable information for online poker and casino operators. With a potentially untapped section of the market active, finding ways to engage them would prove profitable.

For the UKGC, any such tactics will need to comply with current regulations. However, the statistics show that industry dynamics, in the UK at least, have changed during the lockdown period. The question now is, will these changes will be long-lasting or not?

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