It was shown in a recent YouGov poll commissioned by the British charity GambleAware that the general rate of gambling declined significantly in Britain during the country’s first Covid-19 shutdown.
The rate of problem gambling has decreased, as has the average amount of money spent by customers. YouGov conducted a two-part study in which the same people were questioned once last year and then once again seven months later.
This year, it questioned 12,161 individuals between September 24 and October 13, with a follow-up interview with 9,067 participants in May of this year. From October 2019 to May 2020, the overall rate of gaming engagement decreased from 49 percent to 39 percent. Only 4% of those who gambled said that they had bet more during lockdown than they had before, compared to 41% who reported that they had gambled less and 52% who reported that they had gambled the same as before.
The study discovered that players who were classed as problem gamblers or at risk of becoming problem gamblers were more likely than other players to have bet more than they should have. The poll used the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) to quantify problem gambling severity.
12 percent of medium-risk gamblers increased their wagers, while 46 percent decreased their wagers.
Even among higher-risk gamblers, more people reduced their gambling than increased it, albeit the difference was smaller, with 20% gambling more and 27% gambling less on average. The findings were similar when it came to gaming expenditure: 41% of respondents indicated they were spending less in May, while 51% said they were spending about the same and 3% said they were spending more.
Those who had evidence of gambling issues were more likely to have raised their gambling expenditure in this study as well, although once again, there were more persons across all categories who lowered their gambling spending than those who increased it. The number of at-risk gamblers has also decreased, with the share of low- or medium-risk players dropping from 10% to 9%, and the proportion of high-risk players dropping from 3% to 2% of the total.
In the first part of the study, 17 percent of those categorized as problem gamblers ceased gambling completely
or exhibited no hazards in May 2020, 23 percent reduced their risk to low or medium, and 60 percent were still classed as problem gamblers in the second part of the survey. According to the results of the poll, the National Lottery remains the most popular form of gambling, despite the fact that its proportion of respondents has decreased from 36 percent to 27 percent.
scratchcards declined from 10% to 7% of total sales, online football betting fell from 6% to 3%, and online horse racing betting fell from 3% to 1% of total sales in the same period. Only the online gambling industry experienced a rise in its representation, which went from 1.5 percent to 2.3 percent during the same period. Its results are consistent with polls conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Gambling Commission.
The YouGov pollsters claimed it was “reasonable to deduce” that some of the changes were a direct consequence of the Covid-19 epidemic and subsequent lockdown, while adding that it was not feasible to establish a clear causal relationship.