Gambling activity has fallen in the first two months of this year after a festive peak in December, according to data released by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain (GC).
The data is part of an analysis of gambling activity since the further tightening of covid-19 lockdown measures after Christmas.
The update shows that in January and February this year, there was a 4 per cent decline in active accounts and bets fell by 6 per cent. This equated to a fall in gross gambling yield (GGY) of 19 per cent from December to February.
GGY from slots decreased by 1 per cent to nearly £177m during the period from December to February. The number of bets also decreased by 7 per cent to below 5 billion, while the number of active accounts remained steady after peaking at 3 million in January.
Furthermore, the number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour decreased by 1 per cent to 2.5 million between December and February, having peaked in January at 2.6 million, which was up 4 per cent from December.
The average session length remained steady at 21.5 minutes, with around 9 per cent of all sessions lasting more than one hour.
The full covid-19 data set reflects the period between March 2020 and February 2021, inclusive, and covers both online and, where relevant, some data on bricks and mortar venues, noting that all land-based premises were closed through a lot of the period.
Despite the signs that activity falls outside of national holidays, the GC is urging operators to remain vigilant during periods of national lockdown.
People remain stuck at home, isolated and vulnerable, the regulator said. And the longer the restrictions continue the more uncertainty they are likely to feel over their personal and financial circumstances.
“We know that some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling and the fact that sport will continue during this lockdown will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble”, the regulator added.
It also pointed out that periods of lockdown make it more likely that some individuals will gamble for the first time.
The GC wrote to operators at the start of the most recent lockdown to remind them of guidance it initially issued in May and their responsibilities during lockdown.
The guidance remains to pay close attention to player data over this period and intervene where risky behaviour seems evident.
Operators are also expected to avoid capitalising on the pandemic by exploiting it for marketing purposes and to be cautious when cross-selling products.
Meanwhile the GC pledged to continue tracking the data and to “take steps to permanently strengthen regulatory requirements, encompassing changes to Remote Technical Standards (RTS) and Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) to protect consumers as we have over the last year on ad-tech, game design and high value customer programmes”.
The CG has been under the spotlight in recent weeks after the collapse of regulated entity Football Index led consumers to lose an estimated £90bn. Scrutiny of the company’s demise was shortly followed by the resignation of CG chief executi