Although a number of studies have linked the rise in online gambling to the recent global pandemic, few have examined whether or not the effect has been felt in New Zealand. These studies have not investigated whether gambling is a direct consequence of the pandemic, but they have suggested that gambling is a major cause of stress and anxiety, and that it could have negative effects on one’s health and well-being. Regardless, online gambling is an important part of everyday life for many people, and the research and statistics presented in this article explore the relationship between gambling and the health effects.
The proportion of people reporting an increase in overall gambling has decreased or remained stable in four of four studies, but these estimates are not particularly reliable, as they were based on small sample sizes and monitoring environments that do not mimic the real world environment of a gambling establishment. In addition, two of the studies recruited participants through social media and through previous research participants, which is not the optimal method for estimating prevalence. However, these results are not surprising given the fact that a majority of the respondents were males and younger than 45 years old.
There are numerous laws and regulations that govern gambling online. While many states have banned the activity, most of them have made it legal. For example, in the state of Maharashtra, online gambling is prohibited under the “Bombay Wager Act”. The other laws are silent on the topic, though the Federal Information Technology Rules (FIRs) address these laws, but may block some activities. In addition to the Public Gaming Act of 1867, the Polish Gambling Act amendment, which is expected to take effect on 1 April 2017, will make online gambling available to those with a license.
In the Canadian province of Ontario, a survey of adults who participate in gambling online was conducted. In the survey, 54% of respondents reported gambling online, compared to 23% of those who participate in offline gambling. Another 23% of online gamblers reported that COVID-19 was an important factor in their decision to participate in online gambling. The data also revealed that gambling online was associated with increased odds of depression, job loss, and anxiety. Furthermore, the findings indicated that individuals who reported that gambling online had reduced their working hours due to their depression and anxiety.
Although COVID-19 has not been directly linked to the increased rate of gambling, it has a significant impact on commercial gambling. While it may have reduced problematic gambling in some countries, it may encourage it in others. The longer-term effects are unknown and will depend on follow-up studies. However, the overall impact on people’s lives is clear. The study also found that gambling online was associated with a lower level of education, nonstudent status, and smoking.
However, the findings of the two studies do indicate that the prevalence of gambling problems associated with internet-based gambling is higher among Internet problem gamblers. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that problem gamblers are highly diverse and may exhibit symptoms of problem gambling before engaging in online gambling. A study conducted in this context found that one-third to half of Internet gamblers have gambling problems, while the other half report that they had no problems before gambling on the Internet. This indicates that internet gambling may be an important contributing factor to the rise of problem gambling.