Another UK survey shows fall in gambling

A new YouGov study commissioned by the British charity GambleAware has reported that the overall gambling rate fell in the UK during the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown.

The problem gambling rate and the median customer spend also declined. YouGov carried out a two-part survey questioning the same participants last year and then again seven months later.

It questioned 12,161 participants between September 24 and October 13, 2019, and questioned 9,067 of those again in May this year. Overall gambling participation fell from 49 per cent in October 2019 to 39 per cent in May 2020. Just 4 per cent of participants who gambled said they had gambled more during lockdown than before, compared to 41 per cent who said they gambled less and 52 per cent who were unchanged.

Using the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) to measure problem gambling, the survey found that players who were classified as problem gamblers or at risk of problem gambling were more likely to have gambled more than other players.

Among medium-risk players, 12 per cent gambled more and 46 per cent gambled less.

Among higher risk players, more still decreased their gambling than increased, although the difference was smaller with 20 per cent gambling more and 27 per cent less. Results were similar for gambling spend: 41 per cent of respondents said they were spending less in May, while 51 per cent said they were spending about the same and 3 per cent were spending more.

Here also, those with signs of gambling problems were more likely to have increased spending on gambling but again there were more people across all groups who decreased their spend than who increased it. The number of at-risk gamblers also fell, with the amount of low or medium-risk players down from 10 per cent to 9 per cent and the proportion of high-risk players falling from 3 per cent to 2 per cent.

Of the participants classified as problem gamblers in the first part of the survey, 17 per cent stopped gambling entirely or showed no risks in May 2020, 23 per cent declined to low or medium-risk and 60 per cent were still problem gamblers. The survey found that the National Lottery continued to be the most prevalent form of gambling, although its share fell from 36 per cent of respondents to 27 per cent.

Scratchcards fell from 10 per cent to 7 per cent, online football betting fell from 6 per cent to 3 per cent and online racing betting fell from 3 per cent to 1 per cent. Only online casino saw an increase in its representation, up from 1.5 per cent to 2.3 per cent. Its findings fit with YouGov surveys commissioned by the Gambling Commission.

While stressing that it was not possible to make a direct causal link, YouGov said it was “reasonable to conclude” that some of the changes were the direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.


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