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This year has been tough for many people, businesses, and industries. The COVID-19 pandemic has made many governments around the world impose lockdowns. Many people were forced to self-isolate and people had to distance themselves from one another. Some businesses had to temporarily close and everyone is just really doing their ways to help contain the virus.
And since people were staying at home, many had to find ways to entertain themselves with social distancing. Luckily, the internet has plenty of things to offer including online gambling. However, during the start of the pandemic, the sports betting sector has struggled due to a lack of sports events.
Because people didn’t have a lot of sports to wager on in March to May, these were the months when many online casinos have reported a spike in their traffic. It was likely that regular sports punters turned to the best USA online casinos to still be able to gamble.
Based on statistics, sports bets did drop at 57.08 percent while plenty of major sports events hit the pause button. Meanwhile, online casinos saw an increase in search volume that is around 76 percent. Online casino operators saw a mix of customers when the pandemic started. Some new customers didn’t gamble at all and there were new ones who have previously gambled on sports.
However, luckily for many sports fans, major sports leagues were still able to make a comeback before the year ends. In May, the German Bundesliga proceeded with its season and the English Premier League was also able to come back in June. Since then, many other sports leagues like the NBA, the IPL, and the Champions League announced their returns.
This means that sports betting also came back and the UKGC did report that the return of live sports has driven an increase in the sports betting revenue. UKGC said in a statement, “The seven waves of the YouGov survey conducted from 16 April to 18 June show past-four-week gambling participation has remained relatively stable, within a range of 28-32%.
“There has, however, been a notable recovery in sports betting participation, which fell to 1% in wave 9 (6-7 May) but has now risen to 5% in the latest wave (17-18 June). This corresponds with the return of more elite-level sport, including Premier League football.”
The UKGC report in July said, however, that they recorded a decrease in the number of overall active player accounts across the UK. The report included, “Operator data on overall active player accounts indicate a further 1.2% decrease between April and May 2020, with the number of active players down across each of the verticals, excluding real event betting, where the number increased by 13% between April and May.
Online operator data shows that except for real event betting, there has been a fall in the number of active players for each vertical. Although some of the decreases are relatively small in percentage terms, this is not the case for virtual betting which saw a spike due to the Virtual Grand National in April.”
Overall, the UKGC made it clear that sports betting is on its way to recovery. However, there has been plenty of recent reports of new COVID-19 cases. With this, a new lockdown is effective in England that will last until December 2. What this means is that many businesses in England will be closed including land casinos.
This prompts the UKGC to ask the online casino and betting operators in the country to conduct their business responsibly. In the statement, the UKGC outlined that the lockdown and closure of many businesses will mean that many more people will be spending a lot of time at home. This means that some of them could be vulnerable to the risks of online gambling due to personal, employment, or financial circumstances.
The UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur has said in the statement, “It is vital that all operators play their part in keeping their customers safe and we will be continuing to conduct our compliance assessments during this month-long lockdown.”
He also acknowledged that the Gambling Commission will continue to collaborate with the government and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). Any update on the gambling guidelines in the country will be provided if necessary.
The Gambling Commission said that consumer protection must be paramount. They expect that the operators will take a mindful approach that customers may be vulnerable or are experiencing financial uncertainty.