To combat the spread of COVID-19, the UK Government implemented a range of “lockdown” measures. Lockdown has necessarily changed the gambling habits of gamblers in the UK, and the impact of these measures on the mental health of gamblers is unknown. To understand the impact of lockdown on gamblers, in April 2020, after ~6 weeks of lockdown, participants (N = 1,028, 72% female) completed an online questionnaire. Gambling engagement data was collected for pre-lockdown via the Brief Problem Gambling Screen (BPGS) allowing participants to be classified as Non-Gamblers (NG), Non-Problem Gamblers (NPG) or Potential Problem Gamblers (PPG). The Depression, Stress, and Anxiety Scale (DASS21) was used to measure depression, stress, and anxiety scores both pre- and during-lockdown. Results indicate that depression, stress and anxiety has increased across the whole sample. Participants classified in the PPG group reported higher scores on each sub scale at both baseline and during lockdown. Increases were observed on each DASS21 subscale, for each gambler group, however despite variable significance and effect sizes, the magnitude of increases did not differ between groups. Lockdown has had a significant impact on mental health of participants; whilst depression stress and anxiety remain highest in potential problem gamblers, pre-lockdown gambler status did not affect changes in DASS21 scores.
University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research
Steve Sharman, Kings College London, Institute of Psychiatry, National Addiction Centre and University of East London, School of Psychology
Amanda Roberts, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology
Henrietta Bowden-Jones, National Problem Gambling Clinic; University of Cambridge, Department of Psychiatry and University College London, Faculty of Brain Sciences
John Strang, Kings College London, Institute of Psychiatry, National Addiction Centre