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Gambling: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL4078, tabled on 16 November 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any changes in the (1) volume, and (2) patterns, of gambling activity resulting from the COVID-19 restrictions since March 2020.

Answered on

30 November 2021

Public Health England (PHE)’s evidence review on gambling-related harms estimated the annual cost of harmful gambling to society to be between £841 million and £2.2 billion, or approximately £1.27 billion. Further research is needed to determine costs attributable directly to gambling-related harm rather than those associated with people who are problem or at-risk gamblers.

PHE also conducted a rapid review on the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour and associated harms. The review found consistent evidence that overall gambling participation reduced during the initial COVID-19 lockdown period (March to June 2020), and limited evidence to show any new patterns of harms associated with gambling during COVID-19 restrictions.

The Gambling Commission’s official statistics for the year to March 2021 show that the overall participation in gambling declined over the wider period of COVID-19 lockdowns, largely due to the closure of land-based gambling venues for much of the past year. The proportion of respondents participating in any gambling in the past four weeks fell from 47% in the year to March 2020 to 40% in the year to March 2021. Online gambling participation increased to 24% (up 3 percentage points), whilst in person participation decreased 12 percentage points to 23%. However, the increase in online gambling was largely linked to National Lottery play; excluding National Lottery draws, overall participation online increased marginally from 16.5% to 16.9%.