GambleAware Report Contradicts Press on Lockdown Gambling

A new report by GambleAware has contradicted press reports that gambling levels had surged when the country was placed in lockdown. The 58-page report states that more than half of surveyed punters gambled at the same levels as pre-lockdown.

A new GambleAware report has shown that 52% of people surveyed did not increase their gambling activity whilst in lockdown. Several press reports had stated that gambling rates had soared when people were told to work from home, this report contradicts these reports with over half of the 15,162 adults surveyed stating they had not gambled more.

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GambleAware Report claims no increase in lockdown gambling. ©Pixabay.

The report did, however, find that one in five with a high PGSI (problem gambling severity index) score said they gambled more during the lockdown, with 52% of those who increased the time spent gambling citing boredom as the reason.

The data for the report was collected in two phases. YouGov conducted the first phase of surveying in October 2019 and involved 12,161 adults which was a representative sample of Great Britain. Phase 2 was a survey of 3,001 high PGSI scoring individuals with the results weighted to match those in Phase 1. In May 2020, the same respondents were re-contacted to explore changes to gambling behaviour since October 2019.

After studying the two sets of data, the report concluded that there was a significant reduction in gambling activity between the two surveys. 39% reported participating in any activity in the last four weeks in May 2020, compared with 49% in October 2019, a drop of 10% in real terms.

Surprisingly the report noted that almost all verticals showed a reduction in activity. Participation in sports betting, fruit or slot machines, casino gambling and gaming machines in bookmakers was down. National Lottery sales of the Lotto and scratchcards were also down which the report concluded was proof that consumers did not replace in-person sales with online gambling. The one exception was online searches for casinos; these rose sharply from 1.5% in October to 2.3% in May 2020.

The GambleAware report showed that there was also a slight shift in the reasons that those surveyed gave for gambling. In May 2020, the number of people who stated they gambled to make money was slightly less than it was the previous year. The main reason people stated they participated in gambling was for fun or relaxation. The most notable change in the May 2020 results was citing ‘to escape boredom or fill my time’, which increased from 26% in October 2019 to 29% in May 2020.

An interesting aspect of the report is the shift in the numbers of problem gamblers. Depending on their betting habits, participants are classed as PGSI 0 (non-problem gamblers), PGSI 1-2 (low-risk gamblers), PGSI 3-7 (moderate-risk gamblers) and PGSI 8+ (problem gamblers).

Those who in October who had a PGSI score of 1+, only 38% stayed in that category. 54% ) had decreased their category, including 45% who had either gone down to a score of 0 or stopped gambling altogether. Just 7% had increased their category, the same figure as those who had moved from 0 into the 1+ group. Also, 14% of those who had previously been non-gamblers had started to gamble in the time between October and May.

Around half of gamblers in the survey said that compared to normal, they gambled about the same amount (52%) or less (41%) during the lockdown. Only 4% said they gambled more.

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