The pandemic has impacted consumer behavior in many ways. Some of these changes have been positive. But, there have also been negative effects, like higher levels of substance abuse.
Despite some consumers saying they experience personal growth during this time, others have found it has led to an increase in existing problematic behavioral patterns.
One example of this is a surge in online gambling. According to a study by researchers at the University of Bristol, more people have used gambling websites to pass the time in lockdown.
The researchers found that people that were already regular gamblers were much more likely to participate in online gambling at home in the last year, compared with before the pandemic.
Researcher Alan Emond said, “This study provides unique real-time insights into how people’s attitudes and gambling behavior changed during lockdown when everyone was stuck inside and unable to participate in most social activities.”
The findings reveal that although many forms of gambling were restricted, a minority of regular gamblers significantly increased their gambling and betting online.”
“As with so many repercussions of the pandemic, inequalities have been exacerbated and particularly vulnerable groups were worse affected.”
What are the changes in gambling habits?
Before COVID-19, there were already some concerns about the online gambling industry. The number of adults with addictions had risen in the last few years, and some experts had called for the industry to have tighter regulations.
This latest study analyzed online gambling trends from the last year by looking at responses from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which started before the pandemic.
The participants in this study answered a number of questions about their gambling habits, along with other lifestyle behaviors.
After looking at these responses, the researchers then carried out another two surveys of over 2,600 adults about how their gambling had changed in the pandemic.
Overall, they found that people were gambling more online, particularly games like bingo and poker. In-person gambling decreased during the same period.
They also found that alcohol consumption increased during the same period and this was strongly linked to online gambling among the participants.