The global COVID‑19 pandemic and related government restrictions led to changes in the availability of gambling in Australia, with land‑based gambling venues temporarily closed and major national and international sporting codes suspended.
To understand how people adjusted to these changes in gambling availability, the Australian Gambling Research Centre surveyed over 2,000 people who gamble from across Australia during June‑July 2020, and spoke with key experts who work in gambling research, regulation, policy and treatment. They wanted to learn more about the types of products people gambled on before and during COVID‑19 (e.g. sports, racing, pokies), and how people’s gambling participation, alcohol consumption and health and wellbeing were affected.
Findings from the study will help to inform the development and implementation of policy and practice responses to prevent and reduce gambling- related harms in Australia.
- Almost 1 in 3 survey participants signed up for a new online betting account during COVID-19, and 1 in 20 started gambling online.
- Even with limited access to venues, overall, participants gambled more often during COVID-19. The proportion who gambled 4 or more times a week increased from 23% to 32%.
- Horse racing, sports betting, greyhound racing and lotto were the main products that participants gambled on before and during COVID-19.
- Of concern, 79% of participants were classified as being at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling-related harm.
- Survey participants and key experts recommended a range of initiatives to minimise gambling-related harm in the community, including a reduction in the availability and marketing of gambling products and the implementation of strong consumer protection measures.