Gambling participation in Britain declines during 2020

According to new data published by the UK gambling Commission, gambling participation in Britain saw a significant decline in 2020.

The data published by the Gambling Commission covers the quarterly gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence data for the year to December 2020. 

The figures are based on the UK regulator’s quarterly telephone survey conducted by Yonder Consulting. A nationally representative sample of 4,007 adults aged 16 and over were interviewed over the phone in March, June, September and December 2020.

The Gambling Commission’s data

According to the figures, participation among adults in any gambling activity dropped to 42% which represents a 5% year-on-year drop.

The figures also show that between 2019 and 2020, each age and gender category saw some sort of decline in gambling participation rates, with the sharpest drops being recorded among men and younger age groups.

Online gambling participation was up to 24% while in-person gambling participation was down to 26%.

National Lottery draws and other lotteries have seen increases in online play and decreases in in-person play. When the respondents who only took part in National Lottery draws were excluded, the overall participation rate dropped to 28%.

Meanwhile, the Commission’s figures recorded a drop in participation in in-person football pools, bingo, betting on horse races, betting on other events and casino games.

A Commission spokesperson said: “The year to December 2020, which the data is based upon and reflects, has been an 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, the all respondents online participation rate has remained stable between 2019 and 2020.”

In addition to this, the Commission noted that the overall problem gambling rate in Britain is 0.3%, compared to 0.6% the previous year. However, the Commission said that this is not “a statistically significant decrease on the previous year’s figures.”

Meanwhile, the rate of “moderate risk” participants remained stable at 0.9% while the “low-risk” rate dropped from 2.7% to 2.0%.

The BGC pledges to “keep up the momentum”

In response to the Commission’s data, the UK’s industry standards body, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), pledged to “keep up the momentum” in its mission to raise industry standards.

Although the Commission said the drop in problem gambling rates were not “statistically significant” the BGC said that the drop in figures suggest that its work over the past year on promoting safer gambling has had an impact.

Wes Himes, the BGC’s executive director for standards and innovation, said: “Since being established in 2019, we have worked tirelessly to drive up standards in the regulated betting and gaming industry and promote safer gambling.

“Our initiatives have included encouraging deposit limits, investing more in research, education and treatment, and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes and game design.

“One problem gambler is one too many, however, and we are determined to keep up the momentum in the months ahead.

“For example, we’re looking at how we extend filtering for online ads, and are working with online platforms on opt outs for betting advertising.

“We look forward to engaging with the Government’s Gambling Review to ensure a safer gambling environment for our millions of customers.”