United Kingdom

Coronavirus UK: Lockdown led 1 in 5 problem gamblers to bet MORE

The national lockdown saw one in five problem gamblers increase their gambling activity in an effort to 'relieve boredom', a new study has found.

The YouGov survey, which explored the impacts of the pandemic on gambling behaviour, saw a 20 per cent increase in gambling among those in the most vulnerable groups and a 12 per cent rise in those considered 'moderate gamblers'.  

The research, which collected data between March and May, also found gamblers aged 18-34 were more likely than average to report an increase in time or money spent on at least one gambling activity. 

The YouGov survey, which collected data between March and May, found one in five problem gamblers increased their gambling activity during the national lockdown. (Stock image)

Meanwhile low-level gamblers saw their participation increase by nine per cent and non-problem gamblers saw their gambling increase by only two per cent.  

According to the survey, 52 per cent of those who were identified as problem gamblers said they increased their gambling to 'relieve boredom' or 'for something to do'.

While 26 per cent mentioned having more disposable income to spend on the activity due to a decrease in spending and having more time to gamble. 

The study also found more participants had moved towards online casino games, such as roulette and slots as lockdown measures forced casinos in the country to shut.      

In April, Britain's largest gambling firms announced they would remove all TV and radio advertising for games and products during the coronavirus lockdown after the Government wrote to firms and asked how they were tackling problem gambling during the lockdown.

Following the announcement, the Betting and Gaming Council said it has already seen a drop in advertising spend and said the measure also came in the face of a drop in online revenue.

The London-based BGC said that its members currently account for around 50 per cent of all gambling advertising on TV and radio.

It also called on the other major TV and radio gambling operators such as the National Lottery, society lotteries and other bingo operators to drop their adverts.   

The study also found more participants had moved towards online casino games, such as roulette and slots. (Stock image) 

Meanwhile Rank Group, which owns Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, said its online games were booming, growing by a fifth this year, reflecting a jump in popularity of internet gambling also seen at rival firms including Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power. 

Gamblers playing on online slots are twice as likely to show signs of addiction, compared with those betting on sports online, according to the NHS Health Survey for England 2018.

Online marketing has become the most important part of gambling companies' advertising arsenal, but there are concerns that the adverts target addicts trying to kick the habit, as well as children and young adults.

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