Gambling during the COVID-19 pandemic

Gambling during the COVID-19 pandemic
Author/editor: Biddle, N
Year published: 2020


The aim of this paper is to provide a summary of gambling activity and gambling risk levels during the COVID-19 period, using high quality, national-level longitudinal data. Results presented in the paper show that between April 2019 and May 2020 there was a sharp decline in the number of Australians who said they had gambled in the previous 12 months. Around 52.9 per cent of Australians were estimated to have gambled when asked at the start of the pandemic, compared to the pre-pandemic rate of 65.9 per cent. By November, gambling rates had increased slightly to 58.7 per cent, still significantly lower than the 12 months leading up to April 2019. The decline in gambling rates was relatively consistent for males and females, but there was a much larger decline in those aged 35-45 when compared to other age groups. Using population estimates, results presented in the paper suggest that roughly 2.6 million fewer Australians gambled in the 12 months leading up to May 2020 than would have done if the April 2019 gambling prevalence levels continued into the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that there were 2.7 million fewer adult Australians who bought raffle tickets, 1.7 million fewer adults who played a lottery game and 1.6 million fewer adults who played poker machines or gaming machines at a venue. There was also a decline in at-risk gambling observed over the period, particularly for females and those with relatively high levels of education, as well as an observed relationship between gambling during the pandemic and changes in life satisfaction.

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