Revealing its ‘2020/2021 Annual Report & Accounts’ (period ending 31 March), The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has underlined the tough regulatory climate, with it issuing in excess of over ‘£30 million in fines and regulatory settlements’ during last year.  

The increased regulatory climate came as a result of the Commission imposing a tougher compliance regime on licensed online gambling operators – requiring more stringent customer affordability, source-of-fund and ID verification checks.

At the heart of the changes was the protection of consumers, bolstered by the creation of the newly established Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP).

The pandemic year registered approximately 22.1 million gambling consumers, down 2.6 million on 2019 results. However, the Commission outlined the heightened uptake of online gambling – which registered a 1.3 million increase in new consumers to 12.1 million – underlining the UKGC’s importance for extra vigilance.

Increased online participation, with a strong take-up of mobile gambling products, saw online gambling GGY (excluding lotteries), register record results of £5.6 billion (+8%).

Of heightened concern, the UKGC highlighted market feedback in which 29% of consumers believed that ‘gambling was conducted in a fair manner’ – a sign that the sector’s consumer engagement had become of vital importance.

As the pandemic evolved the way bettors interacted with gambling and safer gambling tools – 2020/2021 saw a 1% increase in gamblers that had chosen to self-exclude as reports revealed that approximately 245,000 adults in England were identified as problem gamblers – with 1.2 million English adults indexing as low-risk profiles.

In spite of the industry’s digitalisation, year-end accounts saw the UKGC’s income decline by 5% from £20 million to £18.8 million, attributed to pandemic factors, which had forced gambling venues and betting shops to close for large parts of the year.