Demand for gambling support services increased during pandemic, say charities

Lockdown has been an uncertain time for Josh Smith. In 2018 he went into rehab after becoming addicted to gambling. Report by Kevin Ashford.

The Government has announced a review of gambling laws in this country. The news comes as organisations that help people with gambling addictions say they've seen an increase in demand for their services during the pandemic.

Gambling advertising and protections for young people gambling alone will be looked at as part of the review.

One measure already announced today is the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18.

Aquarius, a Birmingham-based charity with offices in Leicester and Nottingham, helps people with gambling addictions. The pandemic has meant they had to adapt their support services.

A recent survey by the Gambling Commission found that demand for services grew during the pandemic:

  • 45% of people questioned said their gambling increased due to more spare time

  • 25% said they were gambling more because they were feeling low or unhappy.

  • 12% said the increased gambling was because they were making up for lost income.

Recent stats suggest that there are 33 million online gambling accounts in the UK Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

Experts worry that those issues that gamblers already face, such as isolation, stress and financial worries, are being exacerbated by lockdowns and restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic restrictions have meant more screen time for all of us, and that brings more pressure for addicts according to those who treat them. 

In a statement, the body that represents the gambling industry quoted a Gambling Commission report which said "lockdown had not seen 'a significant number of consumers take up gambling and overall the number of consumers gambling dropped during the initial lockdown phase.'"

If you need support for problem gambling or believe you are gambling too much, visit these services for help and advice: