Search interest in online casinos has reached the highest record of all time in the UK since locks were launched, data shows. Google Trends shows that gambling has moved online amid the closure of physical gambling venues and the cancellation of sporting events.
Troubled gamblers told the BBC that lock-in action was a “recipe for disaster”. Watchdog, the Gambling Commission says there is an increase in some online gambling visit pencetpoker, but there is no evidence of an increase in problem gambling.
How does gambling change?
Although overall there has been a decline in gambling, the commission says across the industry there has been an increase in some customers playing online slots, poker, casino games, and virtual sports.
The gamblers involved also spend more time or money during the lockout, the data shows. Anna Hemmings, chief executive of GamCare, a UK charity for gambling, says there is a “worrying context for people at risk.” He said “contributing factors [to gambling problems], such as financial difficulties, isolation and boredom” increased with Covid-19. Watchdog has given new guidelines to gambling companies to help their customers. “We monitor online operators closely and if we see irresponsible behavior, we will immediately intervene, suspending licenses if necessary,” said commission chief executive Neil McArthur.
The BBC speaks to people in recovery from compulsive gambling on the condition of anonymity. Steve, who works as a manager and is married, has maximized his credit card and has 14 simultaneous repayment loans to cover his debt before he seeks help. “Access to online gambling on mobile phones during locking is a disaster recipe,” he said.
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