Study Shows Slight Drop in Gambling Since COVID Restrictions Lifted
A recent study conducted by the University of Sydney indicates that gambling in live pokies and casino venues has decreased since those venues reopened. However, the study also shows that problem gamblers are still gambling at the same rates as before shutdowns.
Gambling Drop Seen in Average Gamblers But Not in Problem Gamblers
Last week, the University of Sydney released a study at the Brain and Mind Centre Symposium 2020 on gambling tendencies following COVID-19 shutdowns. According to the study, gaming frequency dropped amongst the average gambler. However, problem gamblers are still gambling at the same rates as before.
The study was done entirely online. Researchers sent survey to participants in May, August, and November of 2020. Those surveys were asking questions examining the impact of the changes made in gaming availability. Clubs, pubs, and live casinos were shut down earlier this year. The venues reopened when coronavirus restrictions were reduced or lifted.
According to senior research fellow Dr Nicola Black, Our preliminary results indicate that most people are gambling less frequently, even as venues re-open and we start to get back to normal life, but more efforts are needed to help people experiencing gambling problems to get the support they need.”
Associate Professor Sally Gainsbury spoke on how problem gamblers are still gambling at the same rates as before shutdowns. According to Gainsbury, “Overall, most people with gambling problems seem to have reduced how frequently they gamble compared to pre-COVID levels – but only by a small amount, and not enough to see any real reduction in gambling-related problems.
“Our findings from the first survey in May indicated many people found the venue closures were helping them to break their gambling problem; but these latest findings suggest that in many cases, their problems may have persisted.”
“We may still be in a window where people experiencing problems are more open to changing their gambling habits. However, without professional support, overcoming entrenched gambling problems can be very hard.”
Gambling Drops Slight for Average Gambler
Looking closer at the data that the study provides, it becomes clear that the overall drop in gambling is only slight. For starters, lets look at how often players are playing now as opposed to before the shutdowns. Gamblers are playing 31 times per month on average. They were betting 34 times a month before shutdowns.
Also, the survey was sent to 462 Australian adults. The vast majority were male and the average age was 45 years. Also, these participants were all from Australia’s east coast. As such, one has to wonder the validity of some of these numbers. The study does not break down patterns for 18 to 35 or older gamblers. Also, the study did not look at online casinos in Australia, just live venues.
The primary focus of the study is on problem gamblers and it seems that the rate of gambling amongst those individuals remains steady. This is both good and bad news. Good in that the problem isn’t worse. Bad in that the problem has not isn’t any better.
What Can We Learn From This Survey?
The survey does not seem to have an overtly political agenda, but focuses more on patterns of behavior for both problem gamblers and the average gambler. From the results, it seems that those that are playing less are doing so because the pandemic gave them time to reevaluate their behaviors.
It also showed that for problem gamblers, it can be difficult to change one’s behavior. While they are not gambling more, they are still wagering just as much. This means that the shutdown had little impact on their illness.
If anything, this proves that simply removing gambling from the equation is not enough to help problem gamblers. Like any other addiction, it takes active and proactive treatment to help gamblers recover.
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