According to a new YouGov survey, around one-fifth of the UK’s problem gamblers increased their levels of play during this year’s national lockdown in a bid to “relieve boredom”.
The survey collected user data between March and May 2020, and its results suggested that the national and local restrictions that were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly affected how we gamble.
As well as discovering that those in the most vulnerable groups increased their gambling activity by 20%, YouGov found that respondents who considered themselves ‘moderate gamblers’ also increased their gambling by around 12%.
Of those who reported that they had gambled significantly more during the lockdown period, most were aged between 18 and 34. However, even people who were ‘low-level’ gamblers increased their participation by 9% while respondents who believed that they didn’t have a gambling problem said that they had gambled 2% more than normal.
52% of people that YouGov identified as problem gamblers felt that they had increased their gambling activity either “for something to do” or to “relieve boredom”. A further 26% believed that their gambling behaviour was affected by having more money to spend and more time on their hands than normal.
The poll also discovered that more players had moved their activities online to play games such as slots and roulette due to casinos being closed after the government deemed them non-essential businesses.
The marked transition of players from land-based gambling venues to online casinos and bingo sites was also noted by some of Britain’s biggest operators, including Coral, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Grosvenor Casinos, and Mecca Bingo.
While YouGov’s survey indicates that problem gambling increased during the spring, the government was quick to try and minimise the risk of potential gambling harms by calling on the largest gambling firms to cease their TV, radio and online advertising during lockdown.