ABSG Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms – Year Two
4 - Trends in gambling
The Gambling Commission’s monitoring of trends in gambling behaviour over the past year has revealed15:
- the closure of land-based premises during the pandemic, resulting in a reduction in overall participation rates across the gambling industry, from 47% to 40%16
- the growth of online gambling activity – particularly online betting - with significant spikes coinciding with the return of top-flight football in June 2020 and the traditionally busy month of December17
- evidence of trends associated with a greater risk of harm for some consumers
- there has been a significant increase in sessions lasting over one hour for online slots18, and overall increases in gambling amongst those who were already most engaged (i.e., those who take part in three or more forms of gambling)19. Just under a third of active male and female gamblers increased their frequency of gambling on at least one form of gambling activity, and women shielding for health reasons were more likely to experience gambling harms20
- a drop in the prevalence of moderate risk gamblers from 1.5% in March 2020 to 0.6% in 202121. Low risk gamblers also reduced from 2.7% to 1.9% over the same period. Although any reduction in these figures is to be welcomed, ABSG urges a high level of caution in how these figures are interpreted. It is widely recognised that problem gambling rates are not the same as measuring gambling harms – they do not reflect others affected by an individual’s gambling nor do they capture the societal cost of harms. Problem gambling rates also fail to inform us about the nature of harms experienced22. This is an area where further research and data collection is required23 – as referenced later in this report.
15 Covid-19 research, Gambling Commission – resource providing full online library of Gambling Commission monitoring and trends data over full period of the pandemic.
16 Gambling behaviour in 2021: Findings from the quarterly telephone survey - Gambling Commission, March 2021
17 (Table 4) Gambling business data on gambling activity during Covid-19, Gambling Commission, March 2021
18 (Table 3) Gambling business data on gambling activity during Covid-19, Gambling Commission, March 2021
19 Market overview for November 2020 - consumer research, Gambling Commission (accessed April 2021)
20 The impact of the initial Covid-19 lockdown upon regular sports bettor in Britain: findings from a cross-sectional online study, Wardle et al, Science Direct, July 2021
21 Gambling behaviour in 2021: Findings from the quarterly telephone survey, Gambling Commission, March 2021. NB – This survey also found a non-statistically significant change in the problem gambling rate from 0.6% to 0.4%
23 Defining, measuring and monitoring gambling-related harms, National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, Gambling Commission, April 2019
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Gambling Act Review
Last updated: 8 July 2021
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