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Introduction: Gambling is a common activity amongst young adults in the UK, and was a behavior of interest during the early mitigation against COVID-19 (first lockdown).

Methods: The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) was used to investigate attitudes, moods and behavior during lockdown in England. ALSPAC participants were invited to complete online questionnaires in May 2020, including a set of questions about frequency of gambling and gambling activities which had been asked three years previously. Mental health and wellbeing data and alcohol use were also collected as part of lockdown questionnaires.

Results: Gambling questions were completed by 2632 young adults, 71% female, with a mean age of 27.8 years. Overall, gambling frequency reduced during lockdown for both males and females, but more males engaged in regular (weekly) gambling. Gambling activities became more restricted compared to previous reports, but online gambling (e.g. online poker, bingo, casino games) was more frequent. Previous gambling behaviour predicted gambling frequency during lockdown. No associations were apparent between gambling frequency and measures of mental health and well-being. Heavy alcohol use was strongly linked with regular gambling during lockdown. Gamblers were more than twice as likely as non-gamblers to have experienced financial difficulties pre-COVID, but gambling frequency was not related to employment status during lockdown.

Conclusions: Online gambling increased during lockdown, whilst offline gambling activities decreased in frequency. A small minority of regular weekly gamblers, who tended to be male and heavy users of alcohol, participated in a wide range of online and offline gambling activities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Early online date17 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref: 102215/2/13/2) and the University of Bristol provide core support for the ALSPAC. A comprehensive list of grant funding is available on the ALSPAC website ( www.bris.ac.uk/alspac ). Specific funding for the ALSPAC Gambling Study was supplied by GambleAware (formerly the Responsible Gambling Trust) and the University of Bristol. The collection of data during lockdown using the ALSPAC COVID 19 questionnaires were funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Structured keywords

  • Covid19
  • Gambling Harms


  • gambling
  • lockdown
  • COVID-19


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