The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) released data this week showing that participation in British gambling fell by 5% for 2020.
The commission’s quarterly telephone survey was conducted by Yonder Consulting and interviewed 4,007 people over the age of 16. The results showed that although online activity increased significantly in 2020, the closure of betting shops and casinos saw gambling participation drop to 42% in 2020 from 49% in 2019.
The data also shows that online gambling participation increased by 3 points up to 24%. However, participation in retail gambling dropped 9 points down to 26%.
The drop in participation was seen throughout each age and gender category, but the largest drop was in both the male and younger age categories.
Speaking of the results, a Gambling Commission spokesperson said:
“The year to December 2020, which the data is based upon and reflects, has been a unique year; with the arrival of Covid-19.
The various lockdown rules and restrictions throughout 2020 have brought about significant consumer behavioural change and clearly have also had a major impact on the gambling industry.
Data shows that for all respondents, online gambling participation rates are increasing. When those who have only played National Lottery draws are removed from the data, respondents’ online participation rate has remained stable between 2019 and 2020.”
In related news, Tim Miller, executive director of research and policy and the Gambling Commission, gave a speech at the Westminster Media Forum that outlined the UKGC’s strategy for the remainder of 2020.
In his speech titled ‘The National Strategic Assessment and way forward for gambling regulation’, Miller reasserted the UKGC’s focus is on making gambling safer, fairer, and crime-free.
Miller spoke of the increased scrutiny the UKGC faces from politicians and the public saying:
“As a statutory regulator it is right that we are scrutinised and held to account for how we deliver the licensing objectives, and we know that different groups may have very different views about how our role should be performed.
In particular, we welcome greater interest from parliament in making gambling safer. Whether that interest is long held, came from concerns over FOBTs or is yet more recent, we welcome the diversity of interest and perspective that this greater scrutiny brings.”
Miller also intimated that the commission’s new rules with regards to online slots were a sign of things to come.
“We are working hard to make Great Britain the safest place to gamble in the world and we need you all to work with us to achieve that outcome.
We want to achieve this through collaboration. We recognise the unprecedented pressures on businesses and we know that some operators have been forced to make tough decisions to keep businesses and jobs viable in recent months.
But we won’t hold back. Operators must raise their standards to meet ours. We want to do more to help things go right in the first place. But we will intervene when things go wrong.
The last twelve months have undoubtedly been tough for all of us. But even through the turbulence of the pandemic, progress is being made in making gambling safer. The evidence is suggesting that we are on the right track. So let’s keep on going together.”