With this document you can:

This box is not visible in the printed version.

Understanding the impact of increased cost of living on gambling behaviour

Gambling Commission report with Yonder to understand the behaviours and motivations of gamblers during the period of high cost of living in Great Britain.

Published: 10 October 2023

Last updated: 10 October 2023

This version was printed or saved on: 23 April 2024

Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/report/understanding-the-impact-of-increased-cost-of-living-on-gambling-behaviour

Introduction

The Gambling Commission, in partnership with Yonder, developed and executed a mixed-methodology research approach to generate an understanding of the behaviours and motivations of gamblers during the current period of high cost of living in Great Britain. This research was designed to test three core hypotheses:

This report outlines interim findings from the quantitative phase of research. A final report combining these findings with insights from the qualitative phase will be published in early 2024.

Methodology

Both quantitative and qualitative approaches were used in this research, starting with a longitudinal survey taking place over three waves between December 2022 and June 2023. This was followed by qualitative depth interviews with individuals who took part in the quantitative phase to further understand the impact of the rise in cost of living on lifestyle and gambling behaviours.

Quantitative phase

The first wave of the quantitative phase employed a nationally representative 25-unit (around 12 to 13 minute survey) online Omnibus survey to establish a baseline of key gambling behaviours and explore the impact of external triggers pre-Christmas, 2022. This was followed by a 5 minute recontact survey post-Christmas period to capture changes in core gambling behaviours and was repeated in May after the 2023 energy price cap increase. Demographic differences and Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) scores were considered during the analysis and integrated when the sample sized allowed for a reliable reporting.

The initial wave consisted of a nationally representative online Omnibus survey of 2,065 adults aged 18 or over conducted between 21 to 22 December 2022. Quotas were set on age interlocked with gender, region, and ethnicity and the data was weighted to a known Great Britain (GB) profile. Amongst the nationally representative sample, 973 participants (47 percent) had engaged in a gambling activity in the last four weeks.

Wave 2 of the tracking took place between 27 February to 3 March 2023. Yonder recontacted 1,694 of the same total sample, of which 820 (48 percent) had engaged in gambling activity in the last four weeks. A total of 1,694 respondents took part in wave 1 and wave 2 of the survey.

Wave 3 of tracking took place between 26 May to 2 June 2023. Yonder recontacted 1,391 of the same total sample who took part in the previous wave, of which 666 (48 percent) had engaged in gambling activity in the last four weeks. A total of 1,391 respondents took part in all three waves of the survey (wave 1 to wave 3).

Qualitative phase

Qualitative interviews were undertaken online in August 2023 to build a more rounded impression and picture of each individual. Participants recorded videos and shared stories from their homes about themselves and places where they spend time.

The qualitative phase began with a three-day digital diary pre-task, with 16 participants, to capture details about themselves and to reflect upon any concerns, and anxieties they may have now, or in the future and to identify their monthly spending habits with a particular focus on identifying any cutbacks or savings they have had to make.

Depth interviews were then conducted to further develop a knowledge base around the impact of the rise in cost of living on gambling attitudes and behaviours. This involved 16 one-hour interviews conducted online with gamblers who engage in a variety of different gambling types and with different gambling behaviours.

Initial findings

The following report includes headline quantitative analyses that have been conducted between the three waves of data to identify change across the sample. This includes analyses of online gamblers, gamblers across the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), and some demographic cohorts across a number of core metrics. Please note, analysis on PGSI groups has only been included where base sizes allow. As shown in the tables throughout this report, Z-test significance testing (adjusted for overlapping samples) has been applied as part of the analyses to determine any significant shifts on metrics between waves as well as to determine significant differences between the total sample and sub-groups. Additional significance testing approaches may be explored in future reporting.

Further analyses looking at changes within the sample over the longitudinal period will be compiled and combined with findings from the qualitative phase and published in early 2024. Additional analysis may be undertaken by the Gambling Commission at a later date.

Summary of findings

Financial comfort and concerns, and wellbeing

In the context of increased cost of living, most individuals surveyed have signalled the need to take steps to make their income go further, but broader concerns about personal finances are most pronounced amongst online gamblers and those who scored 8 or more on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Despite this, a majority of the individuals surveyed have also indicated their gratitude for their current situation compared to others, and to a lesser extent, a degree of optimism about their financial comfort and the future.

Changes in gambling behaviours

Gamblers were most likely to report that their gambling behaviours, including the amount of time and money spent, the number of gambling occasions, and their typical stake placed, had stayed the same despite the rise in cost of living. However, those who did report changes, particularly online gamblers, were more likely to have reported a decrease in these behaviours. Conversely, respondents who had scored 8 or more on the PGSI were the most likely to report an increase in of the surveyed gambling behaviours throughout tracking.

Motivations for gambling

Amongst gamblers who reported either a decrease or an increase in at least one of the surveyed gambling behaviours (spend, time, stake or occasions), up to 1 in 10 consistently reported using gambling to bolster their finances (for example, to supplement income on a regular basis). However, use of gambling to bolster finances is notably more common amongst online gamblers, between 1 in 10 to 1 in 5, and significantly more so amongst those who had scored 8 or more on the PGSI.

Additionally, a clear majority of gamblers said that changes in behaviour were at least partially a direct result of increases in the cost of living; around 1 in 5 said that their changes were entirely due to increased cost of living. This was also observed amongst online gamblers.

Financial comfort and concerns around cost of living

This section outlines respondents’ experiences related to the cost of living in Great Britain and how the increases in the cost of living have impacted the public’s sense of financial security.

We define ‘cost of living’ as the amount of money that is needed to cover basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes, healthcare, and a certain standard of living.

Respondents were asked about the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements relating to concerns about or their degree of comfort with their finances at the time of surveying.

At a total level, consistently across the three waves, just under half of respondents agreed that they were ‘just about managing but felt confident that they would be okay’. 40 to 43 percent between the start and end of tracking felt they were ‘financially comfortable’, showing a small but steady directional increase from wave 1 to wave 3. Between 24 and 25 percent also consistently reported ‘not being concerned about the impact of the cost of living on themselves or their family’.

However, 60 percent of respondents in wave 1, agreed that they ‘have looked at ways they can make their income go further’, for example by reducing food portion size or buying second-hand goods. This increased to 65 percent in wave 2 and stabilised in wave 3. At least 40 percent also reported being ‘concerned about their ability to buy everything they need for themselves and/or their families’. The proportion of those agreeing with this statement peaked in wave 2, rising to 45 percent but returned to levels previously seen in wave 3 (41 percent). Around 31 to 35 percent agreed that they have ‘needed to consider, or have found, additional ways to supplement their income’, rising steadily over time. Between 31 and 34 percent agree that they ‘have found it difficult to manage financially’, which peaked in wave 2 but returned to levels previously seen in the run-up to Christmas 2022.

Broadly, agreement with the more optimistic statements related to the cost of living has remained stable over time. However, most reported having taken steps to make their income go further with a greater proportion of respondents reporting this moving into 2023. Consideration for or actively finding alternative ways to supplement income has also increased during the tracked period of increased cost of living.

Table 1.1: Agreement with financial comfort and concerns statements (all respondents)

Table 1.1: Agreement with financial comfort and concerns statements (all respondents).
Financial comfort and concerns
NET: Agree or Strongly Agree
Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
I am just about managing but feel confident that I’ll be okay 46% 46% 47% No significant differences
At the moment, I am financially comfortable 40% 41% 43% No significant differences
At the moment, I am not concerned about how the cost of living is impacting myself and/or my family 25% 24% 25% No significant differences
I have looked at ways I can make my income go further (such as reduce food portion size, buying second-hand goods, and so on) 60% 65% 65% Wave 2 significantly higher than Wave 1
I am concerned about my ability to buy everything I need for myself and/or my family 40% 45% 41% Wave 2 significantly higher than Wave 1

Wave 3 significantly higher than Wave 2
I have needed to consider, or have found, additional ways to supplement my income 31% 34% 35% Wave 2 significantly higher than Wave 1
At the moment, I am finding it difficult to manage financially 31% 34% 31% Wave 2 significantly higher than Wave 1

Wave 3 significantly higher than Wave 2

Table 1.1 information

Question 6. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
Base: Total sample who took part in wave 1, wave 2, and wave 3 (1,391).

It is also notable that individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, or 65 years old and over, as well as men, and those from a C or D social grade1 showed ‘the most comfort’ and ‘least concern over their financial and living situation’ respectively, despite the rise in cost of living.

Interestingly, the opposite effect is noticed on individuals aged between 24 and 54 years old, women, and some from a D or E social grade reported feeling the most financially impacted by the cost of living, having to look for ways to supplement their income and showing concerns over managing their finances.

The overlap in results for social grade D suggest that this socio-economic group may have mixed perspectives regarding their experience with the cost of living and those perspectives may be dependent on age and gender.

Compared to all respondents, a similar pattern of agreement with the financial comfort and concern statements was observed amongst all those who participated in at least one gambling activity in the last four weeks.

Notably, however, in wave 2 (post-Christmas 2022), gamblers reported to be more likely to agree that they were ‘not concerned about how the cost of living is impacting themselves and/or their families’ (27 percent versus 24 percent for all respondent). In line with this, gamblers in wave 2 also reported to be less likely to be ‘concerned about their ability to buy everything they need for themselves and/or their families’ compared to the overall respondents (43 per cent versus 45 percent). However, the reported shifts in these two statements in wave 2 returned to levels previously seen and back in line with their respective average levels of agreement in wave 3.

Table 1.2: Agreement with financial comfort and concerns statements (gamblers)

Table 1.2: Agreement with financial comfort and concerns statements (gamblers).
Financial comfort and concerns
NET: Agree or Strongly Agree
Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave or total)
I am just about managing but feel confident that I’ll be okay 48% 48% 49% No significant differences
At the moment, I am financially comfortable 41% 43% 44% No significant differences
At the moment, I am not concerned about how the cost of living is impacting myself and/or my family 24% 27% 26% Wave 2 gamblers significantly higher than wave 2 all respondents
I have looked at ways I can make my income go further (such as reduce food portion size, buying second-hand goods, and so on) 62% 64% 65% No significant differences
I am concerned about my ability to buy everything I need for myself and/or my family 39% 43% 41% Wave 2 gamblers significantly lower than wave 2 all respondents
I have needed to consider, or have found, additional ways to supplement my income 30% 33% 35% No significant differences
At the moment, I am finding it difficult to manage financially 32% 34% 31% No significant differences

Table 1.2 information

Question 6. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
Base: Gamblers who took part in wave 1, wave 2, and wave 3 (664, 670 and 666).

Amongst the surveyed gamblers, those who engaged with gambling activities online reported some of highest levels of agreement with concern statements compared to the overall respondents. While agreement with the need ‘to look at ways to make their income go further’ is broadly in line with the remaining respondents in waves 1 and 2 (64 and 70 percent, respectively), agreement increased to 74 percent of online gamblers in wave 3; significantly higher than the overall respondents (65 percent). In wave 2, post-Christmas 2022, half of online gamblers (51 percent) were more likely to be ‘concerned about their ability to buy everything needed for themselves and/or their family’ and remained at this level in wave 3 (50 percent) after the 2023 energy price cap increase. Online gamblers were also more likely to have ‘considered or had found additional ways to supplement their income’ in wave 1 (36 versus 31 percent overall) and in wave 3 (43 versus 35 percent overall). In wave 1, online gamblers were significantly more likely to agree that they were ‘finding it difficult to manage financially’ (36 versus 31 percent overall). However, this remained stable amongst online gamblers throughout tracking, and in line with the overall respondents in waves 2 and 3.

Similar observations to online gamblers were made amongst higher scoring cohorts of the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Specifically, those that scored 8 or more PGSI were amongst the most likely to agree that they have ‘looked for ways to make their income go further’, are ‘concerned about their ability to buy everything they need for themselves and/or their family’, ‘have needed to consider, or had found, additional ways to supplement their income’, and that they were ‘finding it difficult to manage financially’.


1Social grade is a socio-economic classification (opens in new tab). This is a way of grouping people by type, which is mainly based on their social and financial situation.

Impact of increased cost of living on wellbeing

In this section, we analyse the effect of the cost of living on wellbeing. Respondents were asked to rate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed to a series of statements relating to wellbeing.

Overall, levels of agreement with wellbeing statements remained stable throughout tracking.

The greatest proportion of respondents agreed that ‘they know their personal situations are better than others and feel grateful’ (71 percent wave-on-wave). Between 35 and 38 percent felt that ‘the cost of living crisis had not impacted their wellbeing’. A smaller proportion reported that ‘they were optimistic that things will get better in 2023’ and while not significant, agreement with this statement gradually increased over tracking (26 percent, 28 percent, and 30 percent; wave 1, 2, and 3, respectively). Individuals who agreed with some or all of these more optimistic wellbeing statements were most likely to be between the ages of 18 and 24 or 65 years old and older. A split amongst social grades was also observed, with those from the A or D socio-economic grades2 being most likely to agree with these statements.

However, just under half of respondents (45 percent) reported ‘not being able to enjoy the things that they used to due to the rising cost of living’, which increased to half in wave 2 (49 percent) as the only significant shift in agreement amongst wellbeing statements. Agreement with this statement remained stable in wave 3 (47 percent).

Between 32 and 35 percent also agreed that ‘they were worried that their financial situation was not sustainable for much longer’ and that they felt a degree of helplessness in resolving their current financial situation’ (between 33 and 34 percent). In addition, between 28 and 31 percent felt that ‘their financial situation was having a negative impact on their mental health’. Those reporting greater levels of agreement with statements around negative impacts on wellbeing tend to be women, aged between 35 years old and 55 years old and on a D or E social grade. Additionally, those scoring 8 or more in the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), are more likely to report a negative impact of the cost of living on their wellbeing.

Table 2.1: Agreement with wellbeing statements (all respondents)

Table 2.1: Agreement with wellbeing statements (all respondents).
Cost of living and wellbeing
NET: Agree or Strongly Agree
Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
I know my personal situation is better than others and feel grateful 71% 71% 71% No significant differences
The cost of living crisis has not negatively impacted my wellbeing 38% 35% 35% No significant differences
I am optimistic that things are going to get better in 2023 26% 28% 30% No significant differences
I have not been able to enjoy the things I used to due to the rising cost of living 45% 49% 47% Wave 2 significantly higher than wave 1
I'm worried that my financial situation is not sustainable for much longer 34% 35% 32% No significant differences
I feel a degree of helplessness in resolving my current financial situation 33% 34% 33% No significant differences
My financial situation is having a negative impact on my mental health 28% 31% 30% No significant differences

Table 2.1 information

Question 8. And which of the following statements, if any, describe some of your feelings towards the current cost of living?
Base: Total sample who took part in wave 1, wave 2, and wave 3 (1,391).

As with observations amongst all respondents, gamblers are most likely to have agreed that ‘their personal situation is better than others and feel grateful’ (between 70 and 71 percent).

Conversely, gamblers reported being significantly more ‘optimistic that things are going to be better in 2023’ in wave 1 and wave 3 compared to all respondents (31 and 33 percent versus 26 and 30 percent, respectively). However, levels of agreement with this statement amongst gamblers remained stable across tracking.

Agreement with being ‘worried that my financial situation is not sustainable for much longer’ was stable across waves amongst gamblers and in line with the remaining sample, there was a gradual decline in agreement ranging from just over 36 percent to 31 percent.

This was also seen with online gamblers in wave 2, post-Christmas 2022. A peak of 41 percent was ‘worried that their financial situation was not sustainable for much longer’. This was significantly greater than the overall respondents.

In wave 3, notably after the May 2023 energy price cap increase, 38 percent ‘felt a degree of helplessness’, significantly more than all respondents (33 percent), despite higher optimism in line with the overall sample – between 67 and 69 percent ‘felt grateful that their personal situation was better than others’ and between 27 and 33 percent felt ‘optimistic that their situation would get better in 2023.

Gamblers’ agreement with all other wellbeing statements have remained stable in line with all respondents throughout tracking.

Table 2.2: Agreement with wellbeing statements (gamblers)

Table 2.2: Agreement with wellbeing statements (gamblers).
Cost of living and wellbeing
NET: Agree or Strongly Agree
Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave or total)
I know my personal situation is better than others and feel grateful 71% 70% 71% No significant differences
The cost of living crisis has not negatively impacted my wellbeing 39% 36% 38% No significant differences
I am optimistic that things are going to get better in 2023 31% 31% 33% Wave 1 gamblers significantly higher than all respondents

Wave 3 gamblers significantly higher than all respondents
I have not been able to enjoy the things I used to due to the rising cost of living 46% 49% 48% No significant differences
I'm worried that my financial situation is not sustainable for much longer 36% 34% 31% No significant differences
I feel a degree of helplessness in resolving my current financial situation 34% 34% 32% No significant differences
My financial situation is having a negative impact on my mental health 29% 30% 30% No significant differences

Table 2.2 information

Question 8. And which of the following statements, if any, describe some of your feelings towards the current cost of living?
Base: Gamblers who took part in wave 1, wave 2, and wave 3 (664, 670 and 666).

While they share similar sentiments about the impact of cost of living on wellbeing to the overall respondents and gamblers more broadly, online gamblers have been observed to be more likely to agree with certain statements at different points in tracking.

This optimism in wave 1 seems to be led by online gamblers with 31 percent reporting feeling more ‘optimistic that things are going to be better in 2023’ than overall respondents. However, online gambler agreement with this statement was stable across waves and fell in line with the average in waves 2 and 3.


2Social grade is a socio-economic classification (opens in new tab). This is a way of grouping people by type, which is mainly based on their social and financial situation.

Impact of cost of living on gambling behaviours

This section outlines changes in gambling behaviour among those who have gambled in the last four weeks. Respondents were asked whether they had increased or decreased specific behaviours, or whether they had stayed the same within the last twelve months. Gambling behaviours surveyed included the amount of time spent, the amount money spent, number of occasions, and typical stake.

Across all four surveyed behaviours, a clear majority of gamblers reported that the amount of time spent (67, 70, and 66 percent), the amount of money spent (65, 68, and 62 percent), the number of occasions (65, 67, and 62 percent) and the typical stake placed (72, 75, and 69 percent) on gambling activities has stayed the same between waves 1 and 3.

Notably, a smaller proportion of gamblers reported that the amount of money they spent (down to 62 percent from 68 percent in wave 2) and the typical stake they placed (down to 69 percent from 75 percent in wave 2) had stayed the same in wave 3. This was mirrored by uplifts in the proportion of those who said they had decreased these behaviours (up to 30 percent from 24 percent in wave 2 and up to 24 percent from 19 percent in wave 2 respectively).

Those that have decreased their gambling behaviour, also tended to be aged between 25 and 44 and from a C2 social grade3 or lower. A closer look at this data revealed that those scoring between 3 and 7 on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), showed the largest shift between wave 1 to wave 2 and wave 3 on increasing the amount of money spent, and the typical stake placed on their typical gambling activities.

Regardless of any wave on wave changes in behaviours, those that did report a change in behaviour over time were far more likely to have decreased behaviours than increase them. Between 22 and 26 percent reported decreasing the amount of time spent on gambling activities compared to between 6 and 7 percent who reported increasing time spent.

Table 3.1: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The amount of time spent gambling on these activities (gamblers)

Table 3.1: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The amount of time spent gambling on these activities (gamblers).
The amount of time spent on gambling activities Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
NET: Increased 7% 7% 6% No significant differences
Stayed the same 67% 70% 66% No significant differences
NET: Decreased 22% 22% 26% No significant differences
Do not know 3% 1% 2% No significant differences

Table 3.1 information

Question 15. How has your gambling behaviour on these activities changed compared to 12 months ago?
Base: Gamblers who took part in wave 1, wave 2 and wave 3 – Gamblers last four weeks (664, 670 and 666).
Note: In some instances, where individual values have been presented in a table, the total may sum up to slightly more or less than 100 percent. This is because it has been calculated using the original unrounded values.

Table 3.2: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The amount of money spent gambling on these activities (gamblers)

Table 3.2: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The amount of money spent gambling on these activities (gamblers).
The amount of money spent on gambling activities Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
NET: Increased 7% 6% 7% No significant difference
Stayed the same 65% 68% 62% Wave 3 gamblers significantly lower than wave 2
NET: Decreased 23% 24% 30% Wave 3 gamblers significantly higher than wave 2
Do not know 4% 2% 1% No significant difference

Table 3.2 information

Question 15. How has your gambling behaviour on these activities changed compared to 12 months ago?
Base: Gamblers who took part in wave 1, wave 2 and wave 3 – Gamblers last four weeks (664, 670 and 666).
Note: In some instances, where individual values have been presented in a table, the total may sum up to slightly more or less than 100 percent. This is because it has been calculated using the original unrounded values.

Table 3.3: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The number of occasions on which you have spent money on these gambling activities (gamblers)

Table 3.3: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The number of occasions on which you have spent money on these gambling activities (gamblers).
The number of gambling occasions Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
NET: Increased 8% 6% 6% No significant difference
Stayed the same 65% 67% 62% No significant difference
NET: Decreased 23% 25% 30% Wave 3 gamblers significantly higher than wave 2
Do not know 4% 2% 1% No significant difference

Table 3.3 information

Question 15. How has your gambling behaviour on these activities changed compared to 12 months ago?
Base: Gamblers who took part in wave 1, wave 2 and wave 3 – Gamblers last four weeks (664, 670 and 666).
Note: In some instances, where individual values have been presented in a table, the total may sum up to slightly more or less than 100 percent. This is because it has been calculated using the original unrounded values.

Table 3.4: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The typical stake that you place when gambling on these activities (gamblers)

Table 3.4: Change in gambling behaviours over time – The typical stake that you place when gambling on these activities (gamblers).
The typical stake placed when gambling Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
NET: Increased 5% 5% 5% No significant difference
Stayed the same 72% 75% 69% Wave 3 gamblers significantly lower than wave 2
NET: Decreased 19% 19% 24% Wave 3 gamblers significantly higher than wave 2
Do not know 4% 1% 2% No significant difference

Table 3.4 information

Question 15. How has your gambling behaviour on these activities changed compared to 12 months ago?
Base: Gamblers who took part in Wave 1, Wave 2 and Wave 3 – Gamblers last four weeks (664, 670 and 666).
Note: In some instances, where individual values have been presented in a table, the total may sum up to slightly more or less than 100 percent. This is because it has been calculated using the original unrounded values.

Gamblers were also asked about the extent to which they attribute the rise in cost of living to changes in their gambling behaviours.

Of those who reported an increase or decrease in at least one of the four surveyed gambling behaviours, 69 percent reported that their changes in gambling behaviour was at least partially a direct consequence of increases in cost of living. Between 18 and 20 percent reported that the increases in cost of living was entirely responsible for changes in their gambling behaviour. Responses to this question remained stable throughout tracking. Online gamblers remained aligned with gamblers overall.

Table 3.5: Change in gambling behaviours as a result of the cost of living (gamblers)4

Table 3.5: Change in gambling behaviours as a result of the cost of living (gamblers).
Change in gambling behaviours as a result of the cost of living Wave 2
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
NET: Yes 69% 69% No significant differences
Yes, entirely 20% 18% No significant differences
Yes, to a large extent 23% 28% No significant differences
Yes, partially 27% 23% No significant differences
No 31% 31% No significant differences

Table 3.5 information

Q17. To what extent, if any, have the changes to your gambling behaviour been a direct consequence of increases in the cost of living?
Base: All those who’s gambling behaviours increased or decreased wave 2 and wave 3; Gamblers last 4 weeks (254 and 289).
Note: In some instances, where individual values have been presented in a table, the total may sum up to slightly more or less than 100 percent. This is because it has been calculated using the original unrounded values.


3Social grade is a socio-economic classification (opens in new tab). This is a way of grouping people by type, which is mainly based on their social and financial situation.

4 The question text changed from wave 2 onwards affecting comparability. Only data for wave 2 and 3 is shown in Table 3.5: Change in gambling behaviours as a result of the cost of living (gamblers).

Gambling motivations

This section looks at the potential motivations of gamblers for gambling during the surveyed time of increased cost of living. Respondents who had previously said that they had either increased or decreased their behaviours were asked to think about why they have chosen to gamble in the last 12 months and then asked to rate their level of agreement with four statements that describe financial motivations. The motivations surveyed have been narrowed down to help determine the impact of increased cost of living on gambling and is not an exhaustive list of potential motivations for gambling overall.

Incidence of using gambling to either regularly supplement income on a regular basis, to help pay household bills, to pay for luxuries, or to offset loans or debt is low overall. Amongst gamblers who had reported a change in at least one gambling behaviour, between 8 and 9 percent had reported ‘using gambling to supplement their income on a regular basis’ and ‘using gambling to pay for luxuries they would not normally buy’ (9 percent each wave). Similarly, between 5 and 7 percent reported to ‘use gambling to pay for household bills’) and ‘to help offset loans and/or credit card debt’ (5 percent each wave). All motivations remained stable between wave 1 and wave 3.

However, online gamblers reported notably higher levels of agreement with each statement compared to gamblers overall, particularly with ‘using gambling to supplement their income on a regular basis’ (14 and 19 percent for waves 1 and 3) and ‘using gambling to pay for luxuries they wouldn’t normally buy’ (16 percent for waves 1 and 3). This effect was led by those scoring between 1 and 2 on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Furthermore, those who scored 8 or more on the PGSI demonstrated even stronger levels of agreement across all four statements.

Table 4.1: Motivations for gambling (gamblers)5

Table 4.1: Motivations for gambling (gamblers).
Motivations for gambling
NET: Agree or Strongly Agree
Wave 1
(percentage)
Wave 3
(percentage)
Statistical differences
(versus previous wave)
I use gambling to supplement my income on a regular basis 8% 9% No significant differences
I use gambling to help pay household bills 5% 7% No significant differences
I use gambling to pay for luxuries I would not normally buy 9% 9% No significant differences
I use gambling to help offset loans and/or credit card debt 5% 5% No significant differences

Table 4.1 information

Question 18. Thinking about why you have gambled in the last 12 months (wave 1), since February 2023 (wave 3), to what extent do you agree with the following statements?
Base: All those who’s gambling behaviours increased or decreased wave 1 and wave 3; Gamblers last 4 weeks (664 and 666).


5 This question was asked only to wave 1 and wave 3.

Conclusions

Broadly, respondents are aligned on their levels of financial comfort and concerns, and their wellbeing as it relates to the increase in cost of living, regardless of their gambling status. That is to say, gamblers overall are as likely as all respondents to have looked for ways to make their income go further and have moderate levels of concern about their finances while also feeling grateful for their situation compared to others. However, while directionally in line with gamblers overall, online gamblers and those who score 8 or more on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) appear to have felt the negative impacts of increased cost of living on their financial security and wellbeing more strongly.

Has the rise in cost of living had a mediating effect on gambling behaviour?

Initial quantitative evidence suggests that the rise in cost of living does not appear to have had a mediating effect on most gamblers’ gambling behaviours, with most behaviours staying the same as they were 12 months ago when asked in each wave of tracking. In contrast, the small proportion of those who have made changes to their gambling behaviours are more likely to have decreased them than increased them. Those scoring 8 or more on the PGSI are the exception to this trend, where they are more likely to have increased their gambling behaviours than other groups.

Further analysis looking at longitudinal changes in gambling behaviour overtime will be included as part of the final report.

Has the rise in cost of living negatively impacted vulnerabilities for some consumers?

A small minority of gamblers who said that they have changed at least one of the surveyed gambling behaviours have reported to use gambling to support their finances in some way, but a greater proportion report doing this amongst online gamblers and those who scored 8 or more on the PGSI. Respondents within these groups who have either increased or decreased their gambling behaviours point to the rise in cost of living as at least partially the reason for these changes.

Where possible, a longitudinal view of the reported impact of cost of living will be analysed and reported on in the final report.

Further quantitative analysis exploring the impact of increased cost of living across different demographic groups as well as longitudinal analyses will be included in the final report. This will also be accompanied by key findings from the qualitative phase of this research – this was designed to further explore the quantitative findings with the goal of providing further context around reported attitudes and behaviours and to explore some of the wider contextual factors which may have impacted upon behaviour.

Appendix

Gambling Activities

A list of gambling activities asked about in the survey to determine gambler status in each wave of tracking is provided as follows: