A new survey carried out by Survation has found that gamblers in the UK are betting more during the coronavirus lockdown. People who gamble regularly online are doing so just as often or more frequently during the lockdown.
Overall, respondents to the survey, of more than 1000 people, were more likely to have reduced their gambling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, regular gamblers said that they were gambling more, with a quarter of those who typically bet at least once a week saying that they were still doing so, while 28% had increased their activity and 11% said they were gambling a lot more.
Among casual gamblers, more than half of respondents said that they had sustained or increased their level of gambling. The survey also found that 41% of people who bet had opened a new online account since the pandemic took hold.
The survey was commissioned by Clean Up Gambling, formed this month by Matt Zarb-Cousin, a recovering gambling addict and former Labour Party communications adviser, and backed by a former professional poker player, Derek Webb.
“There is mounting evidence that one of the big winners from the coronavirus pandemic will be online gambling companies, which is why the government must make good on its promise to review all of our gambling laws as soon as possible” Zarb-Cousin said.
Matt Gaskell, clinical director for a network of British National Health Service gambling disorder clinics in the north of England, agreed that the findings indicated that a government review should trigger significant changes to regulation.
“As well as the conditions of the lockdown, what we are seeing are the harmful consequences of ‘light touch’ regulation and the responsible gambling industry mantra. We urgently need measures to protect people gambling more than they can afford to lose, a stop to the ubiquitous advertising and marketing, and a comprehensive review of the Gambling Act of 2005. Forget self-regulation — we need the government to step forward,” he said.