Changes of Gambling Patterns during COVID-19 in Sweden, and Potential for Preventive Policy Changes. A Second Look Nine Months into the Pandemic.

HÃ¥kansson A, Widinghoff C

Int J Environ Res Public Health 18 (5) - [2021-02-27; online 2021-02-27]

Gambling has been suggested as one of the potential mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In earlier self-report studies, increased gambling has been reported by a limited proportion of respondents characterized with a high degree of problem gambling. The present study, carried out with the same methodology and in the same geographical setting, around seven months later in the pandemic, aimed to repeat and to extend the understanding of potential gambling changes in the population during COVID-19. An anonymous sample of web panel members was assessed, altogether 2029 individuals (52% women, 10% moderate-risk or problem gamblers). Results indicated that 6% reported increased gambling, and 4% reported decreased gambling during the pandemic. Having increased gambling was associated with more severe gambling problems (OR 2.78, 95% confidence interval 2.27-3.40), increased alcohol consumption (OR 2.92, 1.71-4.98), and psychological distress (OR 3.38, 1.83-6.23). In the group reporting increased gambling during COVID-19, moderate-risk/problem gambling was very common (62%). Recent governmental policy interventions in the area were known to a minority (30%) of respondents, but awareness of the regulations was markedly more common in individuals with at least moderate-risk gambling (56%) and in self-excluders (78%). Reporting of any perceived influence from policy changes was low (3%), and divided between those reporting an increasing and decreasing effect, respectively. Increased gambling may be a consequence of COVID-19-related changes in everyday lives of individuals with problematic gambling patterns. Thus, a vulnerable group demonstrates higher rates of gambling migration and psychosocial problems, and may require particular attention in screening and treatment contexts, and further scientific evaluations.

Category: Public Health

Type: Journal article

PubMed 33673575

DOI 10.3390/ijerph18052342

Crossref 10.3390/ijerph18052342

pii: ijerph18052342


Publications 7.1.2