Total slot yield was down 4.1% month-over-month to £157.4m (€175.3m/$207.1m) in September, based on data from operators representing 80% of the market. The number of bets placed also fell by the same percentage, to 4.71bn, despite active player numbers increasing 6.3%.
This was accompanied by a decline in yield for other casino games, which fell 4.9% to £56.6m.
Slots’ decline meant that online sports betting pushed ahead as the leading vertical in terms of gross gaming yield, aided by the return of the Premier League during the month. GGY was up 15.3% to £189.7m, accompanied by a 13.9% increase in active players to 4.3m, with the number of bets placed rising 4.6% to 246.6m.
Other products, which had performed well under lockdown, continued to see GGY decline in September. The biggest decline was recorded for esports betting, which fell 28.3% to £1.3m.
Poker, meanwhile, continued its fall from a £20.1m lockdown peak recorded in April. GGY for the vertical was down 5.4% to £7.9m, while virtual sports declined 9.7% to £6.7m. Other forms of gambling accounted for a further £1.4m in yield.
Despite the dips in online casino play, average session time in September remained steady at 21 minutes – unchanged since June – with the number of sessions lasting more than an hour falling to their lowest level since March.
Over this period the number of customer interactions undertaken by operators rose to 995,058, though the Commission noted that the majority of these were automated. Direct interaction, from a member of staff, remained steady at 4%.
The start of the 2020-21 Premier League season also benefitted retail betting in Great Britain, the Commission figures show. Data from operators covering 85% of the market showed a 1.5% rise in over-the-counter yield, to £72.3m, and a particularly strong performance from self-service betting terminals (SSBTs), which saw GGY shoot up 68.9% to £27.6m.
Despite the £2 stake cap, machines in betting shops also performed well, with yield up 8.3% to £86.6m.
After the total number of machine sessions rose 9.7% to 8.4m, and the number of sessions lasting over an hour climbed to 233,505, the Commission warned that this could indicate the potential for an increase in the intensity of play. Licensees were therefore warned to be mindful of the Commission’s customer protection guidelines.