Research Report Round-up: Gambling & gaming during COVID-19

What you need to know

A report titled Gambling and Gaming During COVID-19: Prevalence, Implications and Strategies to Stay Safe provides an overview of the impacts of COVID-19 on the gambling and video gaming sectors. The report shows that during the lockdown that resulted in the closing of physical gambling spaces, more individuals participated in online gambling. There was also an increase in the number of people playing videogames and in the amount of time spent playing video games. The report also looks at the risks and harms associated with gambling and gaming in the general population and in youth, and outlines the ways that people can continue to participate in these activities while protecting themselves from the potential risks.

This Research Report Round-up presents a summary of the report. Research Report Round-ups are brief, plain-language summaries of research reports, presented in a user-friendly format.

Read the summary below or download the PDF.

Title and Link to Report: Gambling and Gaming During COVID-19 - Prevalence, Implications and Strategies to Stay Safe

Author(s): Steve Keller and Carley Sims, YMCA Youth Gambling Awareness Program, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Year: June 2020

Location: Toronto

What this report is about

Efforts to minimize the health impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) around the world have impacted many sources of enjoyment. For example, live events, concerts, games, matches or races have been cancelled to help “flatten the curve” of new COVID-19 cases. As a result, many people have few activities they can participate in during the pandemic.

Two activities that may have replaced these sources of entertainment are online gaming and online gambling.

A report titled Gambling and Gaming During COVID-19: Prevalence, Implications and Strategies to Stay Safe provides an overview of the impacts of COVID-19 on the gambling and video gaming sectors. The report outlines the following impacts:

  • For gambling participation, the closure of physical gambling spaces has not led to a decrease in gambling participation around the world. Instead, more individuals are participating in online gambling and more organizations have seen this as an opportunity to move into the virtual gambling space.
  • For video gaming participation, the amount of time spent and the number of people playing video games has increased.

The report also looks at the following risks and harms associated with gambling and gaming in the general population and in youth:

  • For the general population, if someone is gambling or gaming frequently or for long periods of time, they may set aside less time for other responsibilities such as work, chores or personal wellness. This may also cause them to neglect their relationships. People may also be spending more money on gaming or gambling than they can afford, which may put added stress on them and on their relationships.
  • For children and youth, gaming and gambling carry risks that are often different from those seen among adults. First, problem gaming or gambling can negatively impact the social, emotional and psychological development of youth. Many of the protective aspects of a young person’s life (such as sports, art classes, social gatherings and school) are no longer available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic due to measures to limit transmission of the virus. This means the young person has more time to commit to gaming and gambling online and may no longer be participating in other activities that bring them joy. In addition, youth may have less access to disposable income, especially during the pandemic, and may experience greater financial harm if they overspend on gambling or gaming.

Finally, the report outlines ways that people can continue to participate in these activities while protecting themselves from the potential risks. Some suggestions include:

  • setting a time and money limit and tracking wins and losses
  • researching the games and websites before signing up
  • taking breaks to participate in other activities (for example, through the YMCA’s programming and other free activities available online, such as learning to play an instrument or another language, touring a museum, or attending a virtual workout class)
  • connecting with loved ones through video chats.

How can this report be used 

This report may be useful to policymakers and public health professionals looking to reduce the risks associated with gambling and gaming among youth.

Populations addressed: Children, adolescents, and young adults

Key words: Early psychosis intervention; fidelity; assessment; monitoring; program standards; quality improvement.

Contact person/source: Steve Keller & Carley Sims , Youth Gambling Awareness Program, 416-928-9622 or 1-800-223-8024, https://ymcagta.org/contact-us

Language: English