To fully understand human behaviour, it’s important that ask the right questions to understand the reasons behind the behaviour.
What is it that motivates somebody to gamble?
Are there common motivations for gambling that we see time and time again?
How are those reasons behind gambling likely to change when somebody is in lockdown?
Typically, we find the reasons why people gamble are varied. Often people gamble as a form of recreation, whether that be to relax or socialise with others. There is also a significant financial incentive to gamble - the hope of winning money is often among the most significant reasons why people gamble in the first place. Not only do people gamble to win more money than they currently have, but there is a growing issue around those who are in debt gambling - specifically with the idea that they will be lucky enough to win all of their problems away.
It is also often reported that gambling can be a crucial form of escapism. Those who gamble often find that it is a great way to pass the time, as well as alleviate those feelings of boredom or loneliness. In the context of lockdown, it’s likely that we’ll see a change in the reported reasons why people are gambling. For those who are already experiencing feelings of loneliness and boredom, those feelings must be undoubtedly amplified as a result of the tighter restrictions and social distancing rules that are in place at the moment. Not only that, but those who weren’t previously affected by loneliness are significantly more likely to be now.
At the moment, financial security is a hot topic for most people and organisations. Many of those who previously had quite strong financial security are now finding themselves less secure as a result of less work or no work - or even being furloughed, meaning they may only have 80% of their previous income. It goes without saying that those who were already struggling for lockdown are probably finding it even tougher.
At times like this, it is understandable that gambling might be an attractive solution. “My rent is £400, and I only have £100. I may as well gamble it and hope for the best - worst-case scenario, I still can’t pay my rent.” Needless to say, this is often the beginning of a long and painful Catch-22 situation.
The Guardian recently published an article which shows that we are already seeing the impact the lockdown is having on gambling behaviour. In total, 39% of gamblers have increased their gambling since the lockdown started. 41% of those who bet have opened a new online gambling accounts since lockdown. These figures should raise concern in us all.
It was recently announced, that GamStop registration is now mandatory for all UK gambling sites. Customers who register with GamStop impose a self-exclusion upon themselves, and are unable to log into any of the gambling platforms which are registered with the service. GamStop has seen a 15% increase in registrations since the lockdown started - clear evidence that more people need support to manage their gambling at the moment. It is more therefore important than ever that we all do our part to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of the range of services which are available.
Those affected can contact the National Gambling Helpline on freephone 0808 8020 133 or visit the National Gambling Treatment Service website for more advice and to speak to an adviser on live chat.