UK Legal Online Gambling Revenue Dips Slightly in Q1

Posted on: May 19, 2022, 09:31h. 

Last updated on: May 19, 2022, 09:39h.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) just released an update on the impact COVID-19 has had on gambling behavior. The update primarily covers the first quarter of this year and shows a slight drop in online gambling activity.

Big Ben in London, England. The country still has an affinity for online gambling, although the market dipped slightly in the first quarter. (Image: Casino Guardian)

Overall, gambling continues to play a significant role in the economy. The UKGC’s data from yesterday shows that the total gross gaming yield (GGY) generated online during the first quarter was £1.2 billion (US$1.5 billion). This was a 1% decrease from the previous quarter.

The overall number of spins or bets placed in the quarter was down 2% compared to the previous quarter. However, there was an increase of 5% in the average monthly active customer accounts.

A Shift in Gambling Operations

From the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated by slot machines fell by 5% to around £541 million (US$676.25 million). The first calendar quarter equates to the fourth fiscal calendar in the UKGC’s reporting.

Further, the gambling regulator revealed that online slot sessions lasting more than an hour have fallen by 2% to 7.9 million in the past two quarters. About 7% of all sessions lasted more than an hour, while the average session lasted just 18 minutes.

We recognise that the country is now entering a different phase as we adjust to life after a series of restrictions. We continue to expect extra vigilance from operators as consumers are impacted in different ways by the circumstances brought on by the pandemic and the wider economic environment,” the UKGC said in a statement.

The UKGC published data showing that the GGY of licensed betting operators increased by 3% to £551 million (US$688.97 million) between the two consecutive quarters. However, the total number of spins and bets placed by consumers dropped to 3.2 billion.

Adherence to Regulations Paramount

The gaming industry watchdog reiterated its take on the importance of adherence to regulations. It expects operators to “follow the strengthened guidance” it issued during the first COVID-19 lockdown. It also wants gaming companies to more closely scrutinize how consumers interact with their platforms and how much money they spend.

Soon, voluntarily monitoring spending won’t be an option. As the UK continues to rework its gambling laws, the subject of mandatory spending checks is a hot-button topic. UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes has reiterated his position several times, and if he gets his way, the industry is going to face very strict policies.

The industry definitely has to change how it thinks about affordability. I think we know that across the industry, across government, everyone agrees something needs to happen around affordability to make sure we don’t have unaffordable gambling and that we do have sensible intervention, so something will need to change,” said UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes.

Instead of ensuring that a consumer is financially capable of gambling on a particular platform, the UKGC wants an all-platform solution. It wants operators to have access to a consumer’s total gambling spend across all platforms at all times.

The objective is to reduce gambling harm. However, even the UKGC has acknowledged that the “problem gambling” segment only amounts to 0.2% of the entire market.