Mental Health Over Time and Financial Concerns Predict Change in Online Gambling During COVID-19
HomeAbstractsMental Health Over Time and Financial Concerns Predict Change in Online Gambling...
Int J Ment Health Addict. 2022 Jan 20:1-15. doi: 10.1007/s11469-021-00750-5. Online ahead of print.
This study examined online gambling behavior during COVID-19 land-based gambling restrictions and associations with changes in mental health, impacts on household income due to the pandemic, financially focused motivations, and symptoms of gambling problems. A repeated online survey was administered to adult gamblers in Ontario, Canada. Wave 1 was conducted at the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown (April 2020) and wave 2 in August 2020. Respondents (N = 940) completed validated self-report questionnaires related to depression and anxiety, financial motivation, financial impacts due to the pandemic, online gambling behaviors, and problem gambling symptomatology. A cluster analysis identified three subgroups: no online gambling (subgroup 1), engagement in a range of gambling games online and change in gambling involvement (i.e., some increased and some decreased gambling; subgroup 2), and predominantly online lottery play with no change in online gambling (subgroup 3). Respondents who reported increased anxiety and depression symptom severity between the two waves and those who experienced greater symptoms of problem gambling and negative impacts on household income due to COVID-19 were most likely to be found in subgroup 2. Greater financial focus was also noted in this group. Results indicate a link between change in online gambling involvement during COVID-19 and increased mental health problems, elevated problem gambling severity, negative impacts on household income, and a greater financially focused self-concept. These results may help generate novel research questions examining short and long-term effects of the pandemic on online behaviors that inform policy and practice.