UK Market Braves Out a Slow Start to 2021Published April 15, 2021 by Lee R
Is the UK recovery in the cards after depressed baseline data for January and February 2021?
UK Gambling Commission UKGC data reveals an enigmatic year-on-year drop in gaming activity in the two months January and February that in 2020 preceded the pandemic shutdowns.
No Rebound Yet
With sequential gains from 2020 not carrying over, the notion of maintaining the momentum of 2020 exhibited in many other prominent recovering iGaming jurisdictions across Europe and beyond was not discernible in the UK.
UKGC data reported drops in gross gambling yield (GGY) to £495.4 million in February, down 19% from December 2020; active accounts, down some 4% to 10.2 million; and total wagers, dropping 6% since last December to 6.2 billion.
Real-event betting yield plummeted to £234.5 million in February, 16% below December 2020.
Slots Try to Hold
Less prominent verticals slot machines held steady with a slight GGY fall to about £176.9 million through February, down 1% from December, with total number of spins decreasing 6% to 5.50 billion, and active slot accounts breaking even at 3.0 million. The number of online slots sessions lasting more than an hour increased by 4%.
No Recovery Period
Unlike other markets, the UK never really had a rebound robust enough to establish further momentum.
The ongoing lockdown measures stretches back endlessly in the minds of most players at this point, and was punctuated after the holiday season saw a spike in COVID-19 cases leading to more restrictions instead of re-opening seen in many other markets.
UK's Ideal Model
The general lack of revenue from land-based casinos at any time during the pandemic in the UK dented industry figures and never provided the breathing room to get a full or substantive recovery process underway—besides the Isle of Man region which proved robust enough to attract new interest from international gaming operators looking for pandemic-era expansion solutions.
As for the UK, the next chance to build some momentum for recovery is tentatively set for April 12th, when the UK reopens betting shops, with casinos being re-opened on May 17th. With the shadow of another wave always looming, the UKGC data suggests that the diligence with which operators can implement protective measures may be the determining factor in the sustainability of the UK re-opening.