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Taking a more in-depth look at online gambling

Online Gambling -

Taking a more in-depth look at online gambling

Online gambling continues to evolve, shaping the landscape of entertainment and gaming worldwide. As technology advances and digital platforms become increasingly accessible, online gambling emerges as a prominent facet of modern leisure activities.

With a diverse array of options ranging from traditional casino games to innovative eSports betting, online gambling caters to a wide spectrum of interests and preferences. Moreover, the convenience and flexibility offered by online platforms have attracted a growing number of participants, transcending geographical boundaries and time constraints.

In this article, we delve into the intricacies of online gambling, exploring its various facets, trends, and implications, to provide a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic and rapidly expanding industry.

Topic Description
Overview Explore the various facets of online gambling, including types of games, legalities, and player safety.
In-Depth Analysis Delve into demographic trends, technological advancements, and emerging opportunities in online gambling.
FAQs Get answers to common questions about online gambling, including legality, game types, and responsible gaming.
Conclusion Wrap up the article with insights on the dynamic nature of online gambling and the importance of responsible gaming practices.

Key Facts: Consumer Online Gambling Behavior in 2020

In 2020, insights from an online survey of approximately 8,000 adults in Great Britain shed light on consumer online gambling behavior:

  • The prevailing method for accessing online gambling remains through mobile phones, especially among younger demographics.

  • While mobile phones continue to dominate, the usage of laptops, PCs, and tablets saw a stabilization in 2020 after recent declines.

  • Despite the predominance of home-based gambling, one in five online gamblers ventured outside their homes to participate.

  • On average, online gamblers maintain three accounts, although a notable proportion of younger players manage more.

  • The practice of in-play betting is prevalent among the majority of online bettors, with younger demographics exhibiting the highest participation rates.

  • The burgeoning trend of eSports betting is notably fueled by younger male demographics, indicating a growing interest in this sector.

Recent years have witnessed a profound transformation in gambling habits, with remote or online gambling emerging as the leading sector in the industry. According to our Industry Statistics spanning April 2019 to March 2020, online gambling has become the largest sector, generating a Gross Gambling Yield of £5.7 billion, constituting approximately 40% of the overall market. This shift is underscored by our quarterly telephone surveys, which indicate consecutive year-on-year increases in online gambling participation. In 2020, nearly one in four adults (24%) had engaged in online gambling in the previous four weeks, compared to around one in six (17%) five years ago.

The gambling landscape, much like our daily lives, underwent a seismic upheaval over the past 12 months due to the onset of Covid-19. A series of restrictions significantly curtailed land-based gambling opportunities, prompting a closer examination of the pandemic’s impact on the gambling market and consumers. To grasp the full extent of this impact, we have been providing regular updates based on operator and research data, offering more frequent insights into market dynamics.

In addition to these sources, our quarterly online survey plays a crucial role in understanding evolving gambling behavior. Unlike our telephone survey, the online survey is conducted quarterly and delves deeper into online gambling behavior, marketing, advertising, and safer gambling issues.

While it’s impossible to ascertain the exact trajectory of online gambling behavior without the influence of Covid-19, we believe that our online survey data for 2020 reflects the pandemic’s influence. In this release, we analyze the online survey data for the year 2020 to enhance our understanding of the overarching trends highlighted in our official statistics and to illuminate the pandemic’s impact on gambling behavior. We plan to publish further releases in the coming weeks, exploring data on gambling advertising and safer gambling practices.

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About the Online Gambling Survey

The insights presented in this article are derived from the Gambling Commission’s quarterly online survey, conducted in collaboration with Yonder Consulting. The survey features a nationally representative sample of approximately 8,000 adults aged 18 and over in Great Britain, interviewed during March, June, September, and December 2020.

All data collection occurred during periods of national or localized restrictions. Among the respondents, approximately 4,000 had engaged in some form of online gambling within the last four weeks, allowing for in-depth exploration of their behaviors. Detailed inquiries encompassed the devices used for gambling, preferred gambling locations, and the number of online gambling accounts held.

For additional information on the methodology employed in the quarterly online survey, refer to the notes section below.

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The Evolution of Device Usage in Online Gambling

In 2020, the predominant mode of accessing online gambling remained through mobile phones, a trend particularly pronounced among younger demographics. While half of all online gamblers opted for smartphone gambling, there was a notable age disparity, with three-quarters of 18-34-year-olds favoring smartphones compared to only 14% of those aged 65 and over. Moreover, younger online gamblers, aged 18-34, exhibited a broader spectrum of device usage for gambling, averaging 1.7 devices compared to the overall average of 1.4.

Although mobile phones continued to lead, laptops, PCs, and tablets saw a stabilization in usage trends in 2020. Laptops, the second most popular choice, were utilized by four in ten online gamblers. While their usage had been declining in recent years, it stabilized in 2020, especially among those aged 55 and over. PCs ranked third, accessed by one in four online gamblers, while tablets were used by just under one in five. Both PCs and tablet usage stabilized in 2020 following years of decline. These trends align with the reported 11% growth in PC shipments in 2020 compared to 2019, as consumers increasingly relied on technology during periods of confinement.

Despite the growth potential, smart TVs currently represent a niche avenue for accessing online gambling. Only 3% of online gamblers utilize smart TVs, but there has been significant growth, particularly among younger demographics. Usage doubled between 2019 and 2020 among those aged 18-24 (from 5% to 10%) and 25-34 (from 4% to 8%). With more than half of UK households now owning smart TVs according to Ofcom data, up from 42% in 2018, there exists untapped potential for gambling companies to leverage smart TVs for online gambling offerings.


The table illustrates the percentage of online gamblers accessing gambling platforms through various devices from 2015 to 2020, highlighting the evolving trends in device usage within the online gambling landscape.

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The Shift in Online Gambling Locations

Most online gambling activities still take place within the comfort of home, with little change noted despite recent months’ increased time spent at home due to various restrictions. However, one in five online gamblers ventures beyond home confines to engage in online gambling.

Notably, 20% of respondents reported gambling online in locations other than their homes, with younger demographics, particularly those aged 18-24, exhibiting higher incidence rates (44%), contrasting with less than 2% among those aged 65 and over.

As the boundaries between home and work blur for many individuals, coupled with furlough arrangements, fewer online gamblers report gambling at work (down 4 percentage points in 2020) or while commuting (down 2 percentage points). Despite lockdown measures, 8% still admit to gambling online at pubs or clubs, reflecting periods of eased restrictions that coincided with data collection.

At home95%96%
While commuting/traveling12%10%
At work15%11%
At sports venue or horse/dog track4%5%
At a pub/club7%8%

The table presents the percentage of online gamblers engaging in gambling activities at various locations from 2019 to 2020, capturing shifts in gambling behavior amidst changing societal dynamics.

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Monitoring the number of online gambling accounts held by customers is essential alongside examining how and where they gamble online. Currently, operators’ data collection primarily focuses on observing gambling activities within their own platforms, limiting the scope of insight. Our survey data reveals that while most gamblers maintain multiple online accounts, the average is approximately three, indicating a broader perspective beyond individual operator data. Recognizing this limitation, we’ve issued a challenge to the industry to collaborate on developing methods to create a unified ‘single customer view’.

The average number of gambling accounts held, among those with at least one account, has remained relatively stable at around three over recent years. However, there are indications of a slight increase, with the mean reaching 3.2 accounts per person in 2020 compared to 2.7 in 2018.

YearMean number of accounts heldMean number of accounts gambled with in past 12 monthsMean number of accounts gambled with monthly

The table depicts the mean number of accounts held by online gamblers, along with the mean number of accounts used for gambling activities over the past 12 months and on a monthly basis, showcasing trends in online gambling account usage from 2016 to 2020.

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Gender and Age Disparities in Online Gambling Accounts

While the mean number of online gambling accounts offers valuable insight, it’s only a part of the broader narrative. On average, males tend to have more online accounts than females and utilize them more frequently. Additionally, younger gamblers, particularly those aged 18-44, hold a greater number of online accounts and engage with them more frequently compared to those aged 55 and over. Notably, nearly a fifth of 18-34-year-old online gamblers hold five or more accounts, contrasting with only 5% among those aged 65 and over.

 All respondentsMaleFemale18 to 2425 to 3435 to 4445 to 5455 to 6465 and over
Accounts held3.
Accounts gambled with         
in past 12 months2.
Accounts gambled with         
at least once a month1.

The table presents a breakdown of the mean number of online gambling accounts held by respondents, along with the mean number of accounts gambled with in the past 12 months and on a monthly basis, segmented by gender and age groups. This segmentation sheds light on gender and age-related disparities in online gambling account usage.

Understanding Customer Behavior for Safer Online Gambling

Operators must cater to the diverse needs of all customers, ranging from those who exclusively play with them to those active across multiple accounts, to gain a comprehensive understanding of their behavior and identify potential vulnerabilities.

The prevalence of in-play betting among online bettors is notable, particularly among the younger demographic. In recent years, live or in-play betting has witnessed significant growth, with our online survey indicating that three in ten online bettors engaged in in-play betting in the last seven days, while an additional 30% did so in the last four weeks.

Although gender differences in in-play participation rates were negligible, distinct variations emerged by age group. Notably, in the past four weeks, in-play participation was highest among individuals aged 18-24 (77%) and lowest among those aged 65 and over (23%).

 All respondentsMaleFemale18 to 2425 to 3435 to 4445 to 5455 to 6465 and over
In the past 7 days30%31%28%34%45%31%25%16%11%
NET past 4 weeks60%61%59%77%72%64%55%46%23%

The table outlines the in-play betting participation rates among respondents in the past seven days and four weeks, segmented by gender and age groups. This segmentation provides insights into the prevalence of in-play betting across different demographic segments, aiding operators in tailoring their strategies to promote safer gambling practices.

Online Gambling Mobile Dominance in In-Play Betting

The survey reveals a pronounced inclination towards using mobile devices for in-play betting, with three-quarters (74%) of in-play bettors opting for mobile phones, compared to 50% of online gamblers overall.

Online Gambling: Surging Popularity of eSports Betting

Another burgeoning trend is eSports betting, fueled primarily by younger males. The eSports market has experienced steady growth, estimated at an average annual rate of 8.5% between 2016 and 2019. Our online survey data indicates that nearly one in ten GB adults (9%) has engaged in eSports betting, marking an increase from 6% in 2019. Notably, it’s the younger demographic driving this surge, with around a fifth of individuals aged 18-34 claiming to have placed bets on eSports. This figure escalates further among young men, with over a third (36%) of males aged 18-24 participating in eSports betting.

 All respondentsMaleFemale18 to 2425 to 3435 to 4445 to 5455 to 6465 and over

The table delineates the percentage of respondents who have engaged in eSports betting from 2017 to 2020, segmented by gender and age groups, highlighting the evolving landscape of eSports betting participation across different demographic segments.

Conclusion: Taking a more in-depth look at online gambling

In conclusion, online gambling stands as a multifaceted phenomenon that reflects the intersection of technology, entertainment, and consumer behavior. Through our exploration, we’ve uncovered the diverse array of activities encompassed within online gambling, from traditional casino games to the burgeoning realm of eSports betting.

Moreover, our examination of demographic trends and technological advancements underscores the dynamic nature of the industry, with younger demographics driving innovation and growth. As online gambling continues to evolve, it presents both opportunities and challenges for operators, regulators, and participants alike.

By staying attuned to emerging trends, fostering responsible gaming practices, and leveraging technology to enhance user experiences, stakeholders can navigate the ever-changing landscape of online gambling to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and sustainable environment for all involved.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Mobile phones are the most popular, followed by laptops, PCs, and tablets, with smart TVs emerging as a niche option.

The majority of online gambling occurs at home, although some enthusiasts venture to alternative locations for a change of scenery.

On average, online gamblers hold approximately three accounts, with younger demographics tending to have more.

In-play betting allows players to wager on events in real-time, with participation rates particularly high among younger demographics.

Yes, eSports betting has seen significant growth, especially among younger males, with around one in ten adults having ever placed a bet on eSports.

Yes, younger demographics tend to exhibit different preferences and behaviors, such as higher usage of mobile devices and engagement in in-play betting.

Operators should prioritize transparency, implement robust monitoring mechanisms, and provide resources for responsible gambling support.

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online gambling, with more individuals turning to virtual platforms for entertainment and recreation.

Yes, innovations such as smart TV gambling and the integration of virtual reality are shaping the future of online gambling experiences.

Players should gamble responsibly, set limits on their spending and time spent gambling, and seek support if they experience any negative consequences.

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