Study Reveals More Over-65s Gambling

The ongoing pandemic has affected gamblers in many ways. A study of Gambling Commission data by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has revealed that there was a massive increase in the number of people aged over 65 who are gambling.

624,877 more people over that age went online once a month to visit an online gambling site or play a game of chance. This happened during the period when the pandemic first started seeing betting shops, casinos and bingo halls being closed.

In September 2019, the proportion of over-65s gambling online was 8.7%. The figure revealed by the 2021 study found that this had increased to 13.5%. This was part of an overall increase in the numbers going online to gamble at least once a month.

It’s felt that being at home for long periods in isolation was a major contributing factor to the increase. The disruption to their normal routine didn’t help either. More time spent on social media and watching television led to people seeing more gambling advertising.

When lockdowns were lifted, that didn’t mean the end of gambling online. People were still reluctant to return to the gambling shops with fears that there wouldn’t be good enough social distancing. As a result, the online gambling continued.

Matt Zarb-Cousin is the director of Clean Up Gambling. He believes that those who just go online to bet on sport then become targeted. “They will be cross-sold the other addictive stuff like slots and will be given free spins and it is quite overwhelming.,” he said.

You might have imagined that it would be younger people who were gambling more. However, second behind the over-65s age range were those aged between 45 and 54, with an additional 341,445 people. In terms of those aged between 16 and 34 years of age, there was a decrease of 307,700.

Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones from the RCP commented: “The pandemic has shaken our lives in so many ways and these data show that many more older people are gambling online than were before the start of the pandemic.”

Her fear is that this may cause some to develop gambling problems. “Not everyone who gambles will develop a gambling disorder, but some will. Gambling disorder is an illness and, if left untreated, can lead to significant depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.”

The concern over gambling problems has seen the RCP publish an online information tool. This is aimed at those who are concerned about how they gamble or know someone who may be developing a gambling problem.