Pandemic Shutdowns Offer Vital Insights into Shifts in UK Player Behavior

Published June 29, 2020 by Lee R

Pandemic Shutdowns Offer Vital Insights into Shifts in UK Player Behavior

New player behaviors, new areas of demand, and new segments all dot the new landscape.

With all the measures designed to control the spread of problem gambling during COVID-19, iGaming’s preservation amid industry-wide shutdowns elsewhere offers vital   lessons for operators moving forward.   

Vertical Shifts

Verticals such as online casino thrived; as sports betting fell—while lottery and others experienced increases in demand to drive what ultimately amounted to an overall massive shift in consumer buying behavior.

How this morph will continue remains to be seen, leaving the characteristics of the shift clearly in need of monitoring by stakeholders.

Study Support

To provide strategic support, UK think tank TIPi Group has released A Shifting Landscape: The Gambling Industry; a white paper of comparative behavior data during the pandemic as differentiated from national averages.

Behavioral Shifts

Consumers are now engaging online media more than ever over the national average--including more time on apps (24% rise); more time on social media (35%) more videos (e.g YouTube) (39%); and more shows and films on streaming services (48%)--48% of gamblers reported more time connected on mobile, with laptops a close second at 41%.

Increased Scrutiny

It’s no secret that gambling companies will have to tread lightly for the next few months anyway—because in times of even the slightest uncertainty, the industry inevitably comes under greater scrutiny.

Self-Imposed Bans

With the pandemic, the Britain Gambling Commission staved off government pressure by self-imposing TV and radio advertising bans from 7th May, amid shutdown prevailing from up to two months earlier--even while consumer demand for online alternatives increased.

New Betting Options

During the shutdowns, popularity for esports as the newest sports betting option, with Twitch reporting three billion hours watched in Q1. Other alternatives such as virtual sports including the charity event Virtual Grand National provided a stop-gap destined to ebb with the return of live sports.

Long Term Indications

Long term, the study indicates that the recession will get worse before it gets better—yet the blow will be softer for iGaming, because “discretionary spending” among players has historically proven relatively resilient during all recessions.  

Physical Shifts in Players

Post pandemic social distancing guidelines are projected to discourage physical customers—with small venues struggling.

Meanwhile, a new segment spawned by the lockdown: the older generation of gamblers who were resistant to digital adaptation until online play was their only option.


To adapt to new and still emerging consumer behaviors, research suggests relying on “historically cheap” media for advertising—within a greater long-term SEO strategy adapted for new Search Engine Results Page formats confirmed for the coming months.



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