(Australian Associated Press)
Australian gamblers, particularly young men, are betting more often during the coronavirus pandemic despite restrictions keeping people out of pubs and clubs.
New figures from the federal government’s Australian Gambling Research Centre show the number of gamblers who bet four times a week increased from 23 per cent to 32 per cent.
The survey, released on Tuesday, canvassed 2000 people in June and July and compared their gambling during the pandemic to before COVID-19.
Young men aged 18-34 were the most likely demographic to sign up for new online accounts and to increase their frequency and monthly gambling spend.
That median figure went up from $687 to $1075.
Lead researcher Rebecca Jenkinson said in every other age group of men there was no significant change in spending, or a drop
“Young men went in the opposite direction, spending far more than pre-COVID and more regularly,” she said.
“Increased gambling among young men was often reported to be associated with being socially isolated, bored, or as a means of social connection with friends.”
Dr Jenkinson said the 24-hour accessibility of online gambling and the condensed seasons of major football codes were contributing factors.
Almost one-in-three survey respondents said they had signed up for a new online betting account during the pandemic.
About 80 per cent of participants were classified as being at risk of or experiencing gambling-related harm.