The number of Australian adults who gambled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic fell by nearly 2.6 million according to recent research.
Data from the Australian National University (ANU) showed that 66% of the Australian adult population bet on at least one of the 11 forms of gambling available in the country between April 2019 and May 2020, compared to just 53% in the last six months.
The forced closure of bars, pubs, casinos and sporting venues reportedly played a role in fewer people gambling during this period as access to these venues was prohibited during the height of lockdown earlier in the year.
However, there has also been a decline in adults buying raffle tickets with an estimated 1.7 million fewer people taking part in the lottery and 1.6 million fewer using poker machines or slot machines between May and November 2020.
Although in-person gambling venues have reopened in recent months as infection rates of COVID-19 have eased in Australia, gambling activity remains low compared to pre-pandemic levels with around 59% of adults betting in November. Much of the 59% reportedly came from people gambling more online rather than in physical venues.
A further breakdown of the study revealed that gambling rates among male and female bettors remained the same while the only significant decrease came from the 35-35 age group.
ANU collected data from survey responses between May and November 2020. Two groups of 3,219 and 3,029 respondents aged over 18 and from all territories across Australia took part in the study.
Pandemic Leads to Lower Risk-Taking Among Public
The ANU study also found that Australian adults were drinking and smoking less during the pandemic.
Nicholas Biddle, lead researcher professor of the study, explained that the pandemic led to an overall reduction in risk-taking behaviours. However, he stated that the decline in gambling among Australian adults was due to difficulties around accessing gambling outlets online.
Biddle also argued that the decline of gambling is just one of many knock-on effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on society.
Despite the overall decline in gambling between May and November 2020 among Australian adults, the data showed that online gambling was on the rise as land-based gambling venues remained shut during the lockdown.
The ANU study aimed to provide a summary of gambling activity and gambling risk levels during the COVID-19 period to help give an insight into public gambling levels in Australia.