The UK Gambling Commission has revealed that in the year to September 2021, 25% of adults aged 16 and over had gambled online in the previous four weeks, rising from 22.6% in 2020 and up from just 18.1% in 2017.
The data – analysed by gambling treatment providers UKAT – shows that for all 4,005 respondents, online gambling participation rates are increasing, but there are significant annual rises in women and those aged 55-64.
The percentage of women who had participated in online gambling in the last four weeks when surveyed this year stands at 22.1%, up 3% on 2020’s survey. This is the highest rate of female online gambling participation ever recorded.
Similarly, the percentage of those aged 55-64 and participating in online gambling has also rocketed over the years, from 18.4% in 2017 to 23.6% in 2020, rising to a staggering 28% this year.
Those in the oldest age bracket surveyed – 65+ – are also taking to online gambling more than ever before. Back in 2017, 11.3% of those surveyed had gambled online in the previous four weeks, rising to 15.9% in 2020 and then jumping to 18.8% in 2021.
Rises were also reported in the 25-34 year olds, where the rate of online gambling participation now stands at 25.2%- up by 4% on the previous year.
Playing the National Lottery online has been the biggest way in which people gambled online during 2021, followed by other online lotteries, horse racing and sports betting.
The report also reveals a worrying rising trend in low-risk gambling rates for those aged 25-34, and for those aged over 45. Low risk gambling rates in these age groups have risen this year compared to last year, a trend that experts would prefer to see going in the other direction.
Nuno Albuquerque, Head of Treatment for the gambling addiction treatment providers at UKAT commented that the “report by the Gambling Commission is just the tip of the iceberg; we know that thousands more will be gambling online and will continue to do so. Online gambling can be very addictive as it’s so readily available, easily concealed and extremely enticing. It’s advertised as a form of escapism, and is evidently attracting more women and those aged 55 and over than ever before.
“We’re also concerned about the rise in the 25-34 year olds; mostly because we know that online gambling is being encouraged by some celebrity influencers, which is incredibly dangerous and quite frankly disgraceful. They could be instigating a crisis like no other.
“Gambling addiction can ruin lives; we see it for ourselves everyday in treatment. It costs people their jobs, it breaks apart families, and it all starts as a hobby. But it is treatable, it is possible to live a life without gambling.”