Gambling behaviors during COVID-19: a narrative review

J Addict Dis. 2022 Apr-Jun;40(2):208-216. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2021.1971942. Epub 2021 Sep 17.


The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered the world into unforeseen circumstances, prompting the authorities to impose restrictions and cut back various events including many gambling avenues. Professional sports have been postponed, land casinos are closed, and social distancing has shut home games down. The present narrative overview has addressed the following changes in gambling behavior since the start of the pandemic: - a) Change in the number of gamblers and intensity of gambling b) differences among various types of gambling modalities (land-based, horse betting, casino, online). and transitioning between them. c) Psychosocial effects on gamblers owing to the shutdown of gambling avenues in the early phase of COVID-19 lockdown. It alludes to several survey studies conducted so far in Northern Europe (Sweden, UK, Italy), North America (Canada, USA), and Australia on the potential impact of the SARS-Cov2 pandemic on gambling figures. Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) scale is used by most of the studies to demonstrate the severity among gamblers i.e., low-risk, high-risk, and problem gamblers respectively. The majority of studies are based on self-reported questionnaires, few tracked data from online gambling operators, and one study used revenue-based taxation of land-based and online gambling as its information source. The decline in the overall gambling activity attributable to the situational changes was predominant in a majority of surveys. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gambling is diverse - possibly causing a reduction in current or future problems in some, but also promoting increased problematic gambling in others.

Keywords: COVID-19; gambling; gambling behavior; gambling use disorder; lockdown; pandemic; problem gambling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19*
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Gambling* / epidemiology
  • Gambling* / psychology
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • RNA, Viral
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • RNA, Viral