During the early days of the pandemic many public health officials expressed concerns that cooped up people would turn to online gambling as a means of distraction from the creeping terror of the corona virus. A study recently published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, confirms that belief by showing that regular gamblers were six times more likely to engage in online gambling during lockdown.
Researchers at the University of Bristol’s Medical School queried 2600 adults who had previously answered questions about their gambling habits for the school as part of the ongoing the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
When the results were tabulated, researchers found that both men and women were much more likely to engage in regular gambling during lockdown than in regular times. They also found that both men and women were more likely to be drinking while gambling from home, too.
Lead author Professor Alan Emond commented on the study’s findings saying, “This study provides unique real time insights into how people’s attitudes and gambling behavior changed during lockdown, when everyone was stuck inside and unable to participate in most social activities. The findings reveal that although many forms of gambling were restricted, a minority of regular gamblers significantly increased their gambling and betting online. As with so many repercussions of the pandemic, inequalities have been exacerbated and particularly vulnerable groups were worse affected.”
He also pointed out that those who were already prone to problem gambling, and drinking, were much more likely to engage in both of those activities during the dark days of lockdown.
Though the study wasn’t tasked with turning its data into public policy, it’s likely that one of the UK’s very active anti-gambling elements will use the study to implement new restrictions on online gambling.