Facing the Facts About Problem Gambling During Covid Can Help Operators Adapt to the Results

Lee R. - June 11, 2020

Operator restrictions during Covid do not ensure safe gambling: understanding the real facts can.

We have heard the news and easily see the logic: covid shutdowns drove many players to gamble online, but what can we really learn from evidence-based information?

Online Casino Searches Peak

Google Trends reports search queries in online casinos reached an all-time high in the UK with the closures.

More Spent on Play

So-called “engaged gamblers” who played regularly before Covid are spending more time or money during lockdown.

Cry for Help

Problem gamblers themselves have recognised the lockdown as anathema to their recovery—with BBC-surveyed respondents calling the lockdown measures a "recipe for disaster."

Lenders and Charitables Cooperate

Credit provider HSBC UK worked with charitable organisation GamCare to train a team to help customers with gambling addictions, for a call centre receiving an average of 1,000 calls a month seeking support for problem gambling.

Lockdown Stressors

GamCare Chief Executive Anna Hemmings identified contributing factors contributing to gambling problems during Covid-19 as financial distress, isolation and boredom.

Mobile Access Dangerous

One married manager surveyed who maxed his credit cards out was carrying 14 concurrent payday loans before seeking gambling debt support:

"The access to online gambling on mobile phones during lockdown is a recipe for disaster.”

More Tempting Offers

The respondent expressed concerns about lingering heightened temptations available online, even while advertising has been famously banned:

"I'm certain bonus offers with gambling companies are better than they have ever been.”

Ease of Access

Lingering temptations facing players on the verge of problem gambling include the click of a mobile button launching the spin of an online roulette wheel.

Causes: Stress and Anxiety

The most telling takeaway from the survey is that the majority of the respondents knew people in recovery who habitually turned to gambling to improve their mood when they were stressed or anxious: the covid lockdowns have obviously clearly imposed stress and anxiety on all people locked down, whether they are gamblers or not.

Solutions Outlook

While a compulsive gambler is going to find a way to play no matter what, reducing the ease or “convenience” with which individuals can gamble seems the most ethical way forward once the restrictions are fully lifted and from thereon. Regular offers from operators to individual players onsite to self-exclude might be a way to keep all players focused on protecting themselves as well.

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