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Gambling Commission Report Highlights the UK Love Affair with Online SlotsThe latest report by the Gambling Commission proves that the shift to online and instant slot games that occurred during the lockdowns was a permanent shift in UK gambling culture.
While AWPs are known to be popular gaming machines in casinos, pubs, and gaming halls around the United Kingdom, they have always been seen as a very balanced gambling community. With the prevalence of high-street bookmakers and the country’s rich sporting history, you could safely assume that sports betting was the primary outlet for wagering for most Brits.
However, the Gambling Commission's recent market review shows that the tide has shifted in favour of slot games over the past few years.
Major Engagement Shift
The Commission’s report clarifies that rather than relying on industry statistics, which feature limited operators and uptake skewed by bonuses and Free Spins, they have compiled a bespoke dataset which includes “online and in-person gambling covering Licensed Betting Operators (LBOs) found in Britain’s high streets”.
The boundaries of the dataset are also clearly delineated, with the report stating:Quote
“This release compares Quarter 3 (Q3) of the financial year 2022 to 2023, with Q3 of 2023 to 2024, looking at how the market has changed in comparative periods over a year.”
In terms of the public’s growing appreciation for slots, they found that:
- The overall number of total bets/spins increased by 9% Year-on-Year (YoY), compared to only a 2% increase in active player accounts.
- Slots' Gross Gaming Yield (GGY) increased 6% to £618 million YoY, with an 11% (average) increase in the number of spins per active player.
- The number of online slot sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 3% YoY, with approximately 7% of all sessions lasting more than one hour.
- Operator GGY increased by 0.5% to £563 million from Q3 2023 to 2024, compared to last year's comparative timeframe.
This increased slots play is attributed to the pandemic and the resultant lockdowns. While live betting and other events were shuttered, online casinos continued unabated, with slots proving to be an easy-to-learn, entertaining, and potentially rewarding break from the slower pace of sports betting.
The Market Is Normalising
The report highlighted that despite the increase in GGY in Q3 2023 to 2024, compared to the same quarter last year, the number of spins decreased by 4%. Even after this softening, the hard spins number is still an astronomical 3.3 billion games.
It is also worth noting that while the number of gaming sessions that lasted an hour or longer increased by 3%, this figure does not apply to the average session. The statistics showed that the “average session length decreased from 19 minutes in Q3 2022-23 to 17 minutes” in the 2023 to 2024 period.
Overall, the gambling sector in the UK appears to be recovering well from the £1.5 billion blow it suffered during the pandemic, without any notable increase in the risk of compulsive gambling behaviour, which is always the best possible outcome.
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