Almost 625,000 more people aged over 65 are now gambling online than at the start of the pandemic, according to analysis of Gambling Commission figures by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych). The data relates to people gambling ‘at least once a month’, it says, some of whom could be at risk of developing a gambling disorder.
The proportion of over-65s gambling online at least monthly has risen from just under 9 per cent in 2019 to almost 14 per cent, largely due to the closure of physical betting shops during lockdown periods, coupled with lack of access to other activities. The next biggest rise was among 45-54-year-olds, with an increase of more than 341,000, although the number of 16-34-year-olds gambling online fell by 307,000.
‘The pandemic has shaken our lives in so many ways and these data show that many more older people are gambling online than were before the start of the pandemic,’ said RCPsych’s Professor Henrietta Bowden Jones. ‘Not everyone who gambles will develop a gambling disorder, but some will. Gambling disorder is an illness and if left untreated can lead to significant depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. The new information published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists will help anyone who’s worried about their gambling or knows someone whose gambling is becoming a problem.’
RCPsych has produced a new online resource on problem gambling – including advice for anyone who feels they may be developing a gambling disorder – at www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/gambling-disorder