Health-related correlates of gambling on the British National Lottery

Psychol Rep. 1999 Feb;84(1):247-54. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1999.84.1.247.


The National Lottery has been estimated as being played by 65% of the adult British population. This study investigated whether higher average weekly spending on the Lottery is associated with various health-related variables. Results from a survey of 482 British adults (mean age = 33.3 yr.), consisting of 107 students and 375 people in employment, indicated that those who spent more on the Lottery had significantly poorer social functioning (Social Functioning scale of the SF-36 Health Survey), higher weekly alcohol and cigarette consumption, and lower frequency of social support (Emotional and Social Interaction scales of the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey). By contrast, higher lottery spending was not associated with poorer general mental health (General Health Questionnaire). Manual workers spent over twice the weekly amount on the Lottery compared to nonmanual workers. Consumption of alcohol and cigarettes was lower than recently published UK norms. Results suggest that higher Lottery spending among the general adult population possibly may be linked specifically to restrictions in social activity. The association of Lottery spending with alcohol and cigarette use among a sample whose consumption was relatively low appears to require explanation within psychological theories of addiction. The over-all pattern of results is discussed in relation both to addiction theory and to the Lottery's widespread appeal and availability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gambling*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom