Throughout lockdown there was a rise in the use of gambling sites within the UK.
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted commercial gambling in jurisdictions around the world.
Numerous land-based gambling venues such as casinos, bingo halls, horse racing tracks, bars and clubs with electronic gambling machines, lottery retailers, betting shops and poker rooms were forced to close, in particular during the first phase ‘lockdown’ in March and April 2020.
Flutter, the company that owns Sky Bet, Paddy Power and Betfair said that, it benefited from strong sales in 2020 as lockdowns and restrictions saw bored casual gamblers turn to online casinos in huge numbers.
A spokesman for Flutter, recently confirmed a report in the Sunday Telegraph that it handed its 14,000 staff a £1,000 bonus for helping to steer the business through the coronavirus pandemic.
In the final three months of 2020, when peaks of Covid-19 grew globally, Flutter added it had 7.6 million monthly online players, with particularly strong growth in the US, where gross gaming revenues hit 1.1 billion dollars (£790 million).
The gambling commission website published that gambling is now the largest industry sector, generating a Gross Gambling Yield of £5.7bn and comprising c.40% of the overall market. In 2020, almost one in four adults (24%) had gambled online in the last four weeks, compared to around one in six (17%) five years ago.
With the rise in the advertisements on tv and online more and more people have been creating gambling accounts.
Gambling sites such as Bet365 have added options for users to deposit via credit cards and credit accounts, In 2021 it was revealed that 38 sites now allow payment via Klarna, an online buy now pay later company.
This is allowing people to spend money they may not have which could lead to the racking up of debts.
Responsible gambling has released a list of signs to look for in your own gambling or a friends or family members that may identify gambling has became a problem.
- Skipping classes or work to gamble
- Spending less time with friends or avoiding family events to gamble
- Lying about how much time and money is spent gambling
- Poor nutrition, health and sleep
- Borrowing and/or stealing money to gamble
- Increased drinking and/or drug use
- Thinking about gambling frequently
Les, a spokesperson for Gablers anonymous said; “Although we don’t keep statistics nationally, we have seen a rise in the attendance at our weekly group meetings throughout the UK.’
“We hold a wide number of group therapy sessions in person as well as online, those who made need to attend can find information about our group meetings on the meetings finder website”
“We also have a number of phone operators who control our phone information line to direct newcomers to the meetings.
“for those who need help and support during the battle against gambling, our services are very accessible, we have a phone information line that’s available 24/7, there are also multiple contact numbers to reach our professional handlers.”
Lucy,22 (not her real name) spoke about her troubles dealing with gambling.
“Gambling had always been a major part of my life, when I was younger my grandad used to own bingo halls and arcades on Scarborough sea front.”
“We used spend our holidays there playing on the two pence machines.
“As soon as I turned 18 going to the bingo halls became a regular thing, It started off being once a week but some weeks it escalated to 3 or 4 times.
“I was spending on average £50 each time I went.”
“Unfortunately when the lockdown happened in march the bingo halls closed and i was at a loss, this was my only hobby and i didnt know what else to do.
“There became a rise in gambling adverts and I thought I would get on board. i already had accounts with sky bet and Bet365 because I didn’t mind a few football or horse racing bets.
“But then I discovered the slots on these accounts, and then it escalated to me creating other accounts. I had over 20 different accounts on different sites and was spending in excess of £70 a day, chasing my next win.”
“I found myself borrowing the odd 10 or 20 pound of my family so that i could carry on playing.
“It replaced the hobby that I had lost.”
“Around a moth ago, I realised that it was becoming too much, I couldn’t afford to be spending all my money on gambling sites, i was prioritising gambling over buying new clothes and other things that i wanted.
“I needed a way out. And thats when i discovered deposit limits.
“I set all my limits to £5 a week. this was a small fraction of what I was used to spending.
“It has changed my life and the way I look at money. ”
“I should be saving not just spending every penny I own.
“I don’t think I will ever go back to the way I was.”