Habits of 140,000 online gambling accounts in Great Britain detailed by new research

New interim findings from research conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in collaboration with the University of Liverpool’s Professor David Forrest and Professor Ian McHale detail for the first time the gambling habits of 140,000 active online gambling accounts.

The research, which looked at the use of active ‘gaming’ and betting accounts between July 2018 and June 2019, was commissioned by GambleAware to improve understanding of the online gambling market.

It is the first time a dataset containing this level of detail on online gambling transactions has been collated for research purposes. The results show thata large majority of active online gambling accounts in the UK spent relatively low amounts and were used infrequently throughout the year, while a small proportion of accounts were used extensively and generated substantial losses.

As a result, a small proportion of accounts accounted for a large proportion of gross gambling yield (GGY) –the amount retained by operators from customer stakes after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of the costs of the operation.

Key findings from the interim research:

  • 85% of accounts used for betting spent less than £200 on betting over the year between July 2018 and June 2019, while 90% of ‘gaming’ accounts had either an overall win or loss of less than £500 for the same period. 
  • 7%of accounts used for betting (approximately 60,000 accounts among participating operators) and 1.2%, of accounts used for ‘gaming’ (47,000 accounts) lost £5,000 or more over the course of the year.
  • The 5% of online accounts with the highest losses generated a minimum of 70% of Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) in each of betting, virtual casinos, live casinos, and slots.
  • Pre-match football, in-play football and horseracing accounted for most spending from betting, while slots and casino games accounted for most spending from ‘gaming’.
  • Among women, ‘gaming’ was more popular than betting, with 26% of revenue for ‘gaming’ coming from women compared to 6% for betting.
  • 4% of accounts used for ‘gaming’ (equivalent to 164,000 accounts among participating operators) lost more than £500 in a single session during the year.
  • Late night ‘gaming’ was associated with greater spending intensity, particularly for live and virtual casino games.
  • The online betting sector derives an estimated 94% of its revenue from men, who held 78%of betting accounts.
  • Among accounts which spent £5,000 or more over the year, over 95% were held by men, typically in their 40s.
  • Participation in any online gambling was higher, the more deprived an area but mean gambling spend per account (and other metrics such as mean gambling days) varied little across IMD deciles.

Researchers also looked at the use of safer gambling tools. Around 4% received contact from an operator for the purpose of ‘social responsibility’, with the vast majority (84%) of those contacts being made by email.

Of the accounts which lost in excess of £2,000 during the year, around a third (36%) had received a ‘social responsibility’ contact during the year, while 0.84% received a phone call from an operator.

Among safer gambling tools, deposit limits were most widely used by account holders.

Around a fifth (21.5%) set deposit limits, whereas, self-exclusion was applied to 2.3% of accounts.

Commenting on the research, Dr Sokratis Dinos from NatCen said: “This research was able to analyse and assess an unprecedented source of information on how people in Great Britain gamble and opens up numerous opportunities to further understand people’s gambling habits. These interim findings are just the first stage and future research will provide a greater opportunity to understand the risk factors associated with gambling behaviour.”