New research from the University of Swansea has found that 24% of gamblers in Wales have spent more time and/or more money gambling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost a quarter of people revealed lockdown restrictions — including the closure of pubs and non-essential shops — had a negative impact on their gambling habits.
Professor Simon Dymond from the university warned there could be a “perfect storm brewing” regarding those affected by problem gambling, saying: “They may be gambling for longer, they may be gambling on riskier bets and hence may be getting deeper into difficulties.
“So lockdown could be exacerbating problems for people who are already experiencing them.”
The Government is currently conducting a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which could bring about tougher restrictions imposed on the industry.
The Gambling Commission, meanwhile, earlier this week imposed new measures to make online slots safer, including an outright ban on features that speed up play, slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds, and sounds or imagery that give the illusion of a win when the return is equal to or below a stake.
Despite the new measures, the Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA) — which supports gambling addicts in Wales — has warned that the latest lockdown could result in more people needing help.
Development Officer Diana Yorath commented: “Initially during the first lockdown, we saw a downturn in the number of clients that were coming to us for help. That started to increase when we came out of lockdown.
“We would envisage that once we come through this period there’s the potential upturn for people to come to us then.”