Many people sought different ways to keep occupied and entertained during the long months of lockdown around the world. Some took up a new hobby, learned a new language or tried online yoga for the first time — while others logged onto online gambling sites to have a flutter.
In the United Kingdom, more people were using online gambling sites during the lockdown months of April and May as physical gambling and betting shops were forced to close. Instead, they sought out the best live casinos on the internet where they could still play their favorite games.
That’s according to figures from casino operators and the Covid-19 Tracker by YouGov. The British opinion-research organization showed that people who were already gambling began to try new gambling products during the lockdown. While the number of people gambling online in the UK has fallen off as lockdown measures eased at the start of summer, the figures show some gamblers are spending more money and time on various games. The average amount spent on online gambling rose 17% in May compared to April, for instance.
Personal Struggles During Lockdown
Separate research by UK data firm Savanta underscored the personal battles many people struggled with as the British coronavirus lockdown came into force and dragged on for many months, drastically curtailing people’s freedoms and overall lifestyles. It found that as much as one-quarter of the population of more than 66.6 million people experienced issues with their mental health, saying it had been negatively impacted during their enforced time at home when they were isolated from friends and family.
The government’s own figures, from the Office for National Statistics, revealed a slightly higher number of people in Britain — 26% — struggled with loneliness all or some of the time during the lockdown, putting their overall health and wellbeing at risk.
While people battled depression and loneliness and sought out ways to keep busy at home, the lockdown was made even more challenging by the fact incomes fell during this period. As much as 40% of the population had less disposable income to entertain themselves with than before. Many were laid off or fired during the lockdown, as businesses closed and some went out of business altogether, and as a government scheme that paid 80% of furloughed staff’s salaries kicked in.
Seeking Solace In Online Gambling
So it’s hardly a surprise so many people turned to entertainment such as online gambling during the UK lockdown, enjoying their favorite games and taking their minds off the turbulent events around the country, as the coronavirus infection rate and the death toll soared.
The various data also reveal an interesting statistic: that during the lockdown, people who regularly gambled online were more likely to spend cash on entertainment than non-gamblers (17% compared to 13%). Gamblers also watched more television than others (50% vs 42%) and used more on-demand forms of entertainment (48% compared to 40% of adults).
Keeping A Watchdog Eye On Online Gambling
The British gambling regulator, the UK Gambling Commission, said that as part of its role to make gambling safe for everyone, prevent young people from playing and keeping players safe from harm, it was monitoring how the online gambling environment was evolving during and after the lockdown in case it needed to introduce new measures or penalties.
“The Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect everyone across Great Britain. The full lockdown period has also brought significant consumer behavioral change and impacts on the gambling industry, but so has easing of the lockdown,” it said.
“Our responsibility is to protect consumers and we are focused on understanding how the risks posed to them are changing. To help understand these risks and trends, and to inform public knowledge, we are collecting additional data from operators and consumer research — allowing us to build a clearer picture over time.”
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