UKGC: Participation Down in the UK for 2020, Due to Land-based Closures

Lee R. - March 5, 2021

Pandemic reality in the UK reminds that land-based operations need to survive too.

Gambling is on the decline in the UK, as of the year of Covid.

Uncompensated Losses

While the pandemic is well known to have channeled many players online, the shift did not come near compensating for the losses generated by the shutdowns.

Land-based Hit

The retail sector was just hit too hard for the industry to emerge unscathed, with UKGC data indicating adult participation among adults in calendar year 2020 fell to 42%, representing a precipitous 5% year-on-year drop.

Drops Across all Demographics

Declines were turned in across the board year-on-year for all gender and age groups--with the sharpest drops among men and younger age groups.

Online v Land-based

While online gambling participation was up three percentage points to 24%, the slight gain was erased and offset for the worse by in-person participation (down nine points to 26%.

Lottery Impact

Conventional lottery National and other lotteries reported increases in online participation juxtaposed with decreases in in-person land-based play.

Excluding respondents who had participated online in National Lottery draws, the overall participation rate dropped from 32% in 2019 to 28% in 2020.

Decreases in Activity

Across the board decreases were visible in a wide range of activities including in-person football pools; bingo; betting on horse races; betting on other events and casino games.

UKGC Spokesperson Comments

A UKGC spokesman indicated the unique nature of the yearly figures due to the pandemic:

“Data shows that for all respondents, online gambling participation rates are increasing.”

Data Sample

The UKGC data was culled from a quarterly telephone survey conducted by Yonder Consulting of a national representation of 4,007 adults aged 16 and over interviewed via telephone through the months of March, June, September and December 2020.

Trust Stable

A potential positive sign from the UKGC data was the trust retention, with agreement that gambling is conducted fairly and can be trusted remaining stable at 29%.

Problem Gambling Holds

Add to that a slight drop in problem gambling from an already low-looking .06% to .03%, and the UKGC may have the market headed in the right direction to safely emerge from Covid.


Integrating this progress with new measures to protect against player harm is another small step in a comprehensive restructuring process which UK players all stand to ultimately benefit from.

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