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COVID-19 has seemingly put everything on hold – but what about gambling? From an objective standpoint, it may appear that the pandemic would have caused a decrease in gambling activity, due to the lack of sporting events and the closing of casinos around the world, but this is not the case. Gambling has not stopped due to the pandemic – it has just moved online. 

How much has it increased?

People who would regularly gamble on sports, have turned to online casino games and slot machines, which are not only riskier, they also have higher addiction rates. According to Market Watch, “Google searches for online poker reached a five-year peak during the coronavirus pandemic, with the increase beginning in mid-March — the week when most sports leagues shut down.” New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the two states that saw the biggest surges in online gambline, Pennsylvania jumping from $19.5m in February to $43.1m in April. 

What Caused the Increase? 

Boredom: COVID-19 has caused people to stay at home more than any of us are used to, and many do not know what to do with this extra time.  Gambling happens to be one of the activities that can be done without leaving the house, so for those who were not previously gamblers, this could be when they try it for the first time, and for those who actively gambled before the pandemic, they might find themselves with more time on their hands, and find themselves more likely to give into their desire to gamble. 

Accessibility: Gambling is now easier than ever. When gambling online, you don’t have to leave the house, you don’t even need to have cash on hand. All you need is a mobile device and a credit card. 

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Cancellation of Sports: Since there are now very few sporting activities to place bets on, people are turning to other forms of gambling and entertainment. Gambling companies are aware of this shift to online gambling, and have pushed their usual TV and radio advertisements to be online.

Coping Mechanism: The pandemic has caused a great deal of stress and anxiety due to the uncertainty of work, finances, the economy as a whole, and other issues. Those who are feeling stressed about finances may see online gambling as an opportunity to gain money quickly, but the risk is that they can end up losing even more money, causing further stress and anxiety.  

Struggling with Gambling?

Just because online gambling is out of sight compared to in-person gambling, does not mean it is any less of an issue. In fact, it is arguably an even bigger issue, because it can be done discreetly from anywhere at any time, and friends and family members may not even realize that their loved one is struggling with a compulsive gambling disorder. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with gambling, we are here to help. At Algamus Gambling Treatment Services, we are an intimate program and our staff to patient ratio is almost one to one, and we have over 27 years of dedicated and continuous service when it comes to gambling treatment. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

Topics: Gambling Addiction, covid

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.