How has COVID impacted gambling?

13 May 2022

COVID has impacted us all in one way or another, changing the daily lives of many.

Early on, COVID caused disruptions to the gambling industry with lockdowns, venue closures, and major sporting event cancellations.

This limited access to many forms of gambling, which may have contributed to an increase in online gambling.

Research shows that during the 2020 lockdowns, 1 in 20 regular gamblers started to gamble online, with 1 in 3 regular gamblers signing up for an online betting account.

Some people may be gambling as a coping mechanism to deal with COVID-related stress.

We explore how COVID has impacted the way we gamble, and what you can do if gambling has become a problem for you.

“Phones have become like a pokie machine in your pocket. If you have a bank account on your phone, you can gamble anytime, anywhere. While sports betting was limited during lockdowns, people were still able to gamble on anything – from the weather to politics.”

 – Amy, Gambling Help Service


The Impacts of COVID on Gambling

Although we’re still yet to understand the overall impacts of COVID on gambling, current research shows that with limited access to venues, regular gamblers gambled more often than before the pandemic. The proportion who gambled 4 or more times a week increased from 23% to 32%.

There was also a surge of gambling when venues reopened compared to pre-COVID. Factors such as an increase of unemployment, stress, and disconnections from family or friends may have contributed to this increase in gambling.

According to research, young men were the highest proportion of regular gamblers who signed up to new online betting accounts during COVID. They were also most at risk of harm from gambling, with spending almost doubling compared to pre-COVID.

“Individuals have presented to the Gambling Help Service during COVID wanting to seek help to cope when venues opened up again. Many found venues closing a relief as they were able to have a break from gambling.”

– Amy, Gambling Help Service


The Importance of Safe Gambling and Wellbeing

In recent research, more than half of participants in a survey of regular gamblers reported that their mental health and wellbeing had been significantly impacted during COVID.

Some ways COVID has been impacting our mental health might include:

  • Increased anxiety around getting sick
  • Isolation and loss of connection from family and friends
  • Loss of income
  • Changes to work or living environments
  • Changes to co-parenting arrangements.

While COVID has impacted our lives in many ways, internet gambling has remained available. This easy access has meant some people have used gambling to manage COVID-related stressors.

With our wellbeing affected and gambling use increasing, it’s important to understand how to reduce these COVID and gambling-related harms.

If your mental health is suffering during COVID, you don’t have to go it alone. Call Relationships Australia Queensland on 1300 364 277 to make an appointment with a counsellor, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 to talk to someone at any time.

“I’m surprised how much COVID has affected my mental health recently. I’m much more stressed, anxious and deceitful. I’ve realised now how much I have changed just from gambling. I’m far less social. I think realising these things has made me want to stop.” – Male, 30


Gambling Support

If you’re worried about your gambling during COVID, you’re not alone, and help is available.

Here are some options that the Gambling Help Service can support you through:

  • Self-exclusion. Our counsellors can assist with multiple venue exclusions to get you back on track.
  • Someone to talk to and explore self-care strategies.
  • Assisting with exploring goals and the realistic steps in achieving the goals.
  • A non-judgemental, confidential, and safe environment to talk.
  • Referral to other supports where appropriate.
  • Support for couples, families, and friends.

If you feel like you’re not quite ready to speak to someone and would like to try self-help options, the Self Help Guide  provides education around gambling and tips to reduce your gambling.


If you or someone you know are having issues with gambling right now, or if you need further information, Gambling Help offers free and confidential support and advice.

Our experienced counsellors can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

You can learn more about our counselling service here, or call 1800 858 858 to make an appointment.

Contact us

If gambling has become a problem for you, or someone you care about, get some help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Click for face-to-face counselling locations

Click for online counselling and real time chat