Regular gamblers in the UK were more than six times more likely to gamble online during lockdown compared to before the pandemic, according to new research from the University of Bristol.
The study, published today in the Journal of Gambling Studies, showed that while men and women gambled less frequently during lockdown, usage of online gambling - including bingo, poker and casino games - grew six-fold among regular gamblers.
Regular male gamblers meanwhile were particularly prone to gambling more often during the UK lockdown, while those who gambled occasionally were more than twice as likely than before to gamble online.
“This study provides unique real-time insights into how people's attitudes and gambling behaviour changed during lockdown, when everyone was stuck inside and unable to participate in most social activities,” said lead author Professor Alan Emond, of the University of Bristol's Medical School.
“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.”
Over 2,600 adults - aged 28 years on average - took part in the study, which also found that men were three times more likely than women to gamble regularly throughout lockdown.
“With the wider availability of gambling through different online channels, vulnerable groups could get caught in a destructive cycle,” added Emond. “A public health approach is needed to minimise gambling harms.”