On 4 June 2020, a question was posed in the House of Commons by Labour MP, Kate Green, about the need for action to prevent a rise in harmful online gambling during the COVID-19 lockdown. That question implied that evidence of such a rise might exist. As matters stand, the position remains as stated by the Gambling Commission on 12 May 2020, namely “there is no evidence to suggest an increase in problem gambling”.
That may or may not remain the case as further time passes by and fresh statistical evidence becomes available.
What will provide insight into this question in due course will be the result of an 18-month research project – funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19 – that will consider the effect of the pandemic restrictions on young adults and sports bettors – and analyse the promotion and marketing of gambling products during the lockdown.
The project will be jointly led by Professor Kate Hunt and Dr Nathan Critchlow, from the University of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health (ISMH), and Dr Heather Wardle, of the University of Glasgow. The team includes a number of other scientists from both institutions, as well as from the University of Edinburgh.
The University of Stirling’s website states as follows:
It is exceptionally important to understand how gambling is changing under COVID-19 and to use insight from high-quality data to inform appropriate policy and regulatory responses.