Are People Betting More During COVID-19?

The COVID-19 outbreak has had a severe impact upon businesses everywhere, with social distancing and lockdown measures imposed by many across the world restricting certain industries, and sometimes stopping operations altogether. Amongst those industries affected is gambling, with both bricks-and-mortar casinos and betting houses shut, whilst a halt to live sporting events has considerably restricted the live sports and betting sectors.

Whilst many may think this has led to a reduction in gambling, recent findings by have shown that some regulars are actually gambling more during the coronavirus pandemic, the new limitations of sports betting indicating a move towards the more classic online casino games.

Who’s Betting More During COVID-19?

Findings from many recent polls carried out in the UK, have shown that regular online gamblers were either reported as gambling just as frequently or more during the COVID-19 lockdown. Results have shown that 28% of regular gamblers were gambling more, and 11% were said to be gambling a considerable amount more.

Whilst it’s been reported that many within the gambling community have either continued or increased their gambling activity during lockdown, many respondents were also found to have made reductions to their gambling activity during this time. However, many people are also using the lockdown to be that bit more sensible, gambling more responsibly than they may have prior to the coronavirus.

What Are People Betting On?

Reports have suggested that the reduction in sports betting opportunities has led many to turn to online casino games. As a result, many online casino operators have started to see an upturn in custom, with players discovering the classic, traditional casino games, slot machines and poker, offering certain social aspects with live games as well as entertainment. Additionally, whilst the sports betting industry has faced significant disruptions due to the coronavirus crisis, the sector has adapted to this, filling the gap with e-sports.

Operators have begun offering virtual/ e-sports bets, taking the typical sporting events and playing them virtually, whether that’s through computerised racing events or human players on e-tournaments. E-sports has helped the gambling industry to fill the gap left by real-life sporting events, and offer punters a socially-distanced alternative. Whilst the vast cancelation and postponements of sports events around the world has certainly been a hit to many betting operators, with e-sports, sites have been able to offer various different games, including the classic horse racing and greyhounds, football, motor racing and track cycling.

E-sports have even been able to offer benefits that real-life sporting events can’t, new games being ran numerous times throughout any given day, providing users with more choice over their sports betting.

Cause for Concern – Vulnerable Individuals Amidst COVID-19

Whilst the gambling industry adapting to the coronavirus pandemic is great news for those who can safely enjoy it, there have been growing concerns for those more vulnerable to gambling practices. As people around the world continue to live under social distancing and lockdown restrictions, many have worried about the impact this has had on those susceptible to problem gambling, and the risk of them turning to gambling out of boredom, especially in a time where many are suffering from loss of income and other financial uncertainties.

With reports now suggesting that gamblers may be moving towards online casino games, it’s now more important than ever for operators to be on the lookout for concerning behaviours on their platform, and act quickly in both identifying and reaching out to those displaying such behaviours.

Gambling Commission COVID-19 Guidance

In response to the COVID-19 crisis and the concerns it has raised for those most vulnerable, the UK’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) has made the following comments, reminding operators of their responsibilities during this difficult time:

Social distancing measures being put in place mean more people will be at home and we would like to remind online operators that they must continue to act responsibly, especially in regards to individual customer affordability and increased social responsibility interactions. As a reminder, we expect licensees to:

  • Assess individual affordability on an ongoing basis – customers may be experiencing disrupted income. […]
  • Increase social responsibility interactions and intervene where customers are showing signs of gambling related harm
  • Onboard new customers in a socially responsible way and not exploit the current situation for marketing purposes
  • Refresh the information they have on customers regularly
  • review the levels which trigger interactions for AML and SR
  • Ensure that your gambling products have been tested by a test house before they are released to the market…”