The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has had many effects on society and various industries including the gambling industry. Many commercial gambling establishments were forced to close, while online venues continued to operate. In addition to the varying availability of the different types of gambling, the social and economic impacts of the pandemic may affect an individual’s desire to gamble.
(Hodgins & Stevens, 2021) completed a literature review to identify and describe data and findings that examined the effect of Covid-19 on individual gambling and gambling disorder. Researchers completed database searches to identify peer-reviewed articles and other relevant research reports that examine changes in individuals’ gambling behaviors during the pandemic. To be included in the study, articles must have a collection of data on individual gamblers, be published post March 2020, and have Covid effect assessed in English.
What did they find?
Researchers narrowed their literature review to seventeen online self-report surveys. Seven articles were peer reviewed, three were re-prints, and seven were online reports. Eleven of these were cross-sectional, while six were longitudinal in nature. Results showed both an increase and reduction in individual gamblers. An overall reduction in gambling frequency and expenditure was reported in all seventeen articles. Common reasons for gambling less included financial reasons, not wanting to gamble in front of family, someone suggesting they gamble less, no live sports, and cancellation of sporting events.
A handful of studies estimated the increase in gambling. Characteristics of gamblers who reported increased gambling included younger and older age, being male, being female, full-time employment, higher income, anxiety, depression, alcohol consumption, and non-smokers. Reasons for increasing gambling included boredom, need for relaxation, financial pressure, and desire to earn money.A consistent correlate to increased gambling was higher problem gambling severity.
Three studies included in this paper looked at gambling post-lockdown. It was found that 48% of individuals maintained or increased gambling activities. This increase was associated with ethnic background, lower education, non-student status, and smoking.
No study is without limitations. This literature review includes only seven peer-reviewed studies, and all are self-report. This self-report methodology is vulnerable to bias as respondents report their own behavior. Additionally, studies are not generalizable to the entire population of the world, as study groups were specific to regions.
Hodgins, D., & Stevens, R. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on gambling and gambling disorder: Emerging data.Current Opinion in Psychiatry,34(4), 332–343.