October 22, 2020 3 min read

YouGov Reports Decline in Gambling Numbers during Covid Lockdown

GambleAware has commissioned a new study from YouGov to gauge gamblers behavior and participation rates during lockdown in May 2020. Gambling participation has been in decline, the survey reveals.

More Consumers Become Lower-Risk Gamblers

A recent two-part study undertaken by YouGov and commissioned by independent charity GambleAware shows a decline in overall gambling, problem gambling and median spend in the UK during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Treatment and Support Phase 1 study by YouGov surveyed 12,161 gamblers from September 24 to October 13 2019 and served as the basis of the Gambling Behavior and Lockdown Recontact Study which interviewed 9,067 of the original Treatment and Support respondents again in May 2020.

The research utilized the nine-item Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) to measure gambling behavior using a four-point scale to rate each item. Participants were divided into four groups: non-problem gamblers (PGSI score of 0), low-risk gamblers (1-2), moderate-risk gamblers (3-7), and high-risk gamblers (8 or more).

Only 38% of gamblers with a +1 PSGI score remained in the same category as in Phase 1. 54% lowered their category, with 45% who reached PSGI 0 or stopped gambling altogether.

However, 14% of non-gamblers started gambling and 7% of non-risk gamblers moved into the +1 category.

Gambling Participation Rates Decline in May

Gambling participation rates fell from 49% in October 2019 to 39% in May 2020. More than half of the participants said they gambled roughly as much during the lockdown as they did before (52%), while 41% declared they played less. Only 4% admitted to gambling more. Around half of both low-risk and moderate-risk player categories showed a decrease in gambling habits between the coronavirus breakout and the lockdown.

Similar results were reported in gambling spend: 51% spending the same amount as before lockdown, 41% spending less, and 3% spending more.YouGov said that gamblers with a higher risk of experiencing harm were more likely to say they had gambled more than those with lower scores.

Unsurprisingly, in-person activities such as fruit or slot machines, gambling machines, and casino gambling showed a strong decline, while sports betting rates significantly dropped from 8% in October 2019 to 4% in May 2020.

The National Lottery remained the most popular form of gambling in the UK, despite a 9% fall from 36% before lockdown to 27% during the pandemic. Scratchcards, as the second most preferred form of gambling, reported a 3% drop from 10%, which places them in third place as of May 2020. These results suggest that players did not replace in-person gambling with online activities after the beginning of lockdown.

Charity Lotteries Keep Steady

Charity lotteries maintained a 9% participation rate and rose to second place by popularity. Online football betting and online racing betting fell from 6% to 3% and from 3% to 1%, respectively.

Online casino games were the only gambling activity to increase, with a small rise from 1.5% to 2.3%. However, this may be the result of a long-term trend and related to the lockdown, as observed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

Despite the drop in numbers, it is not possible to make a definitive causal link between the overall reduction in gambling behaviors between October 2019 and May 2020, YouGov said, but that it is fair to assume some of the results are the direct consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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