Wardle H, Donnachie C, Critchlow N, Brown A, Bunn C, Dobbie F, Gray C, Mitchell D, Purves R, Reith G, Stead M & Hunt K (2021) The impact of the initial Covid-19 lockdown upon regular sports bettors in Britain: findings from a cross-sectional online study. Addictive Behaviors, 118, Art. No.: 106876. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.106876
Background: The Covid-19 outbreak precipitated unprecedented restrictions on daily life internationally. In Britain, as elsewhere, this included the suspension of professional sports events during the initial ‘lockdown’. Regular sports bettors are at higher risk of gambling harms and the Covid-19 pandemic may exacerbate known risk factors for the experience of these harms (stress, anxiety, financial difficulties etc).
Aims and Methods: We conducted an online cross-sectional survey (July 2020 of 3886 British people who had bet regularly (at least monthly) on sports prior to Covid-19. Multi-variate logistic regression models, run separately for men and women, explored associations between moderate risk and problem gambling with changes in Covid-19 related social and personal circumstances and changing gambling behaviours during Britain’s initial ‘lockdown’ (March-June 2020).
Results: Adjusted odds of moderate risk/problem gambling were higher among men (ORmen=1.31 [95% CI 0.97-1.76]) and women (ORwomen=2.22 [1.19-4.12]) who reported increasing financial difficulties due to Covid-19, had lower wellbeing scores (ORmen=2.17 [1.65-2.84]; ORwomen=3.65 [2.02-6.62]) or who were shielding for health reasons (ORmen=1.59 [1.07-2.35]; ORwomen=4.30 [1.91-9.69]). Odds were higher for women whose frequency of gambling increased during lockdown ORwomen=3.91 [1.85-8.27]). Odds of problem gambling (ORmen=2.50 [1.38-4.53]) or experiencing gambling harms during lockdown (ORmen=2.21 [1.25-3.94] were higher among men who started a new gambling activity during the initial lockdown.
Conclusions: Changing social and economic circumstances related to Covid-19 were associated with gambling harms during Britain’s initial lockdown. Those changing gambling behaviours, such as increasing gambling frequency or starting a new gambling activity should be viewed as vulnerable to gambling harms.
Gambling; Covid-19; Sports betting; Gambling harms
Addictive Behaviors: Volume 118