#Editorial

The rise in online gambling amid COVID-19 pandemic!

Dec 16, 2021, 2:29 PM

As most people were literally left to their own devices during COVID-19 related lockdowns, many began engaging with technology in different new ways.

Recent reports show that online gambling services have exploded in popularity, which could lead to a subsequent increase in gambling addiction.

The implementation of COVID-19 related lockdowns worldwide corresponded with a dramatic increase in many people’s screen time. While swiping the long hours away can help alleviate some of the restlessness and anxiety that comes from being stuck at home, it also increases exposure to heavily marketed goods and services, including online gambling. Some countries have noted that bookmakers increased advertising on websites and social media to lure in potential customers, which can be problematic for those struggling with a gambling addiction, or those simply suffering from boredom and looking for a way to kill time. 

In the UK alone, it is estimated around 350,000 are affected by gambling addiction, with as many as 160,000 affected in Australia. Though a few countries such as Belgium, Spain and Latvia have imposed some restrictions on online gambling in order to try and curb addiction during the lockdowns, the majority of these services remain easily accessible and highly tempting. This poses a serious risk for an uptick in gambling addictions during the pandemic.   

In a few short months, our daily lives and regular habits have changed dramatically. Both the physical and mental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak have contributed to an increased use of online gambling services. These impacts include: 

Few of us are used to spending so many hours, day after day, in our own homes. Cut off from our regular outdoor activities, classes, and even workspaces, many people began feeling bored, anxious, and even depressed. The pandemic itself lent to stress not only about our health, but also about our work and relationships. These feelings, plus the shift of most interactions to an online forum, created a perfect storm for susceptibility to clicking onto an online gambling site.

The crowds found in casinos and sports arenas around the world were quickly recognised as hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus, and were shuttered in many countries. For the first time, major sports seasons and events, including the upcoming Olympics, have been suspended, leaving avid sports fans and casual gamblers at a loss. Dramatic increases in visitors to online gambling sites suggest that people are filling the gap through online gambling. 

A recent study by the UK’s Gambling Commission found that 1.2% of all people who gamble have developed an addiction, but this figure increases to 2.5% when only online sports betting is considered, and a staggering 9.2% when the focus shifts to online gaming like casino games and roulette. 

Part of this is due to the speed of online gambling – gamblers don’t have to wait for specific matches or tournaments, but can place bets in quick succession, chasing wins (or losses) one after the other. Because it is possible to gamble using credit cards instead of cash in hand, debts can be run up extremely quickly before people even really wrap their heads around how much is at stake. The fact that this type of gambling is available 24/7 via a simple click on our phones or computers, also factors into the heightened addiction rates. 

Additionally, online gambling is more easily hidden. It’s far more obvious if you are spending hours at the casino or at a racetrack than if you are simply sitting in the corner scrolling and clicking. This lack of visibility can mean that others may not see you need help until the problem has become very serious.

A Guest Editorial

Read Other Articles In Editorial
Africa deepens its approach to migration governance!
Mar 10, 2021, 12:30 PM

While the topic of migration once was a low priority for African governments, it has gained traction as a strategic policy area for the continent over the past decade.

MoH should treat staff better!
Apr 6, 2022, 11:34 AM

Creating a conducive working environment for staff helps in overall growth and success. Many institutions, who earned global reputation were able to, thanks to the dedicated, loyal and well motivated team at hand.

On term limit in Africa!
Sep 10, 2020, 11:41 AM

One of the major political issues that Africa is faced with is extension of terms of office. And the continuous disruption of the democratic process by either the military or civilians, once again reminds us the need for African leaders to stop overstaying in office.

Ecotourism at a glance!
Dec 23, 2020, 11:01 AM

Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial (mass) tourism.