Gambling in Canada During the COVID Lockdown: Prospective National Survey

J Gambl Stud. 2022 Jun;38(2):371-396. doi: 10.1007/s10899-021-10073-8. Epub 2021 Sep 20.


The current study investigated the impact of the COVID pandemic lockdown on gambling and problem gambling in Canada. The AGRI National Project's online panel participants (N = 3449) provided baseline gambling data 6 months prior to the pandemic. Re-surveying this sample during the lockdown provided an opportunity to make quantitative comparisons of the changes. Nearly one-third of gamblers reported ceasing gambling altogether during the lockdown. For the continuing gamblers, quantitative data indicated significant decreases in gambling frequency, time spent in gambling sessions, money spent, and the number of game types played. Qualitative perceptions of changes in gambling were examined and the accuracy of these reports were not closely aligned with actual changes in gambling. Gambling platform was the only gambling engagement metric where increases were found with ~ 17% of the gambling sample migrating to online gambling during the lockdown. Although problem gambling within the sample generally declined, consistent with previous literature, it was also found that gambling online-among other biopsychosocial factors-was a significant predictor for classification as a problem gambler during the lockdown. COVID-specific influences on health, employment, leisure time and social isolation were moderately associated with problem gambling scores but were not independent predictors of changes in gambling engagement during lockdown. Future studies are required to assess if the pandemic related changes in gambling evidenced in this study remain stable, or if engagement reverts to pre-pandemic levels when the pandemic response allows for the re-opening of land-based gambling venues.

Keywords: COVID; Gambling; Online gambling; Pandemic; Problem gambling.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Canada
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Gambling* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies