A Slippery Slope: The Rise of Online Gambling During the Global Pandemic

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Meta Description: The global pandemic and lockdown restrictions led to a surge in online gambling. The popularity of online gambling led to an increase in problem gambling.  

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, people used their free time to explore the latest technological developments. Since they could no longer visit betting shops and hotel casino resorts, they started exploring gambling sites. The latest studies show how the pandemic led to a rise in online gambling and how this, in turn, led to an increase in problem gambling. 

<H2>Online Gambling Grew Six-fold – Study Shows</H2>    

The global pandemic has turned our life as we know it upside down. In many ways it has been an enlightening couple of years – both in understanding what we have, and also in recognising what we lack. Unfortunately, the need to self-isolate has opened a can of worms when it comes to compulsive habits. Recent research suggests there has been a rise in online gambling, some of which may tend to indicate addictive behavior and thus be problematic. 

According to a University of Bristol study recently published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, male gamblers in the UK were more inclined to gamble online during the pandemic than they used to.  

Both men and women could not gamble at land-based establishments during the lockdown, but they gambled online instead. Regular gamblers used online poker rooms, online bingo sites, online sportsbooks, and online casinos six times more than they used land-based gambling services before the pandemic. Occasional gamblers played online two times more than they used to play at land-based casinos. Moreover, those belonging to the low-income groups were more likely to gamble online during the lockdown.   

Lead author Prof. Alan Emond says that the study gives a unique insight into how gambling patterns changed during the lockdown. Although the lockdown restricted several forms of land-based gambling, regular gamblers played more at online sportsbooks and online casinos. But easy access to online gambling services during the pandemic has harmed vulnerable groups.  

<H2>Why Online Gambling Increased During the Lockdown</H2>   

When people had to stay indoors, they increased their screen time to beat boredom and manage stress and got heavily exposed to online products and services, including online gambling. A few countries noticed that bookmakers advertised their products and services heavily on social networking sites and websites to attract potential customers.  

People felt bored, restless, unproductive, depressed, and anxious because they could no longer engage in social activities. Signing up at online casinos and online sportsbooks became the perfect way to pass the time for most people who used to gamble occasionally or frequently before the pandemic.  

Land-based casinos, racetracks, and betting shops shut down to curb the spread of Coronavirus. Major sports events were suspended, cancelled, or postponed to later dates, creating a void in the lives of sports fans and bettors. They filled the void by using online sportsbooks and online casinos.  

<H2>Problem Gambling – Side Effect of Online Gambling Popularity</H2>    

According to a UK Gambling Commission study, 1.2% of the gambling population develops an addiction to gambling. But this percentage increases to 2.5% when one considers only online sports betting and 9.2% when one considers online casinos.  

People tend to gamble more online because online gambling is fast-paced. You can place bets continuously online, and chasing wins and losses becomes easier.  

Online players use credit cards to fund their online gambling accounts instead of cash. If they lose control over their gambling activities, they can run into unmanageable credit card debts. Moreover, you can access online gambling sites at all hours on all devices. Players can easily access them, play irresponsibly, and experience gambling harm.  

Since you can gamble online in the privacy of your home, it is difficult for someone to notice that you have become a problem gambler who needs help until it is too late.  

A few countries have understood the dangers of the rise of online gambling during the pandemic and have restricted the activity to curb problem gambling. Still, online gambling sites are easy to access and use, putting vulnerable sections of society at risk of getting addicted.  

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