Conservative voters backing public calls for gambling restrictions. 

By Carl Shoben, Director of Strategic Communications, Survation

Since the start of lockdown, our team at Survation has been tracking attitudes and behaviours towards gambling for the Clean Up Gambling campaign. There have been publicised concerns, including from the NHS, that one of the more hidden social side effects of isolation would be increased addiction and debt, especially for the young.

The calls for reform from MPs and the public is growing, and the lockdown and the issues around social isolation have placed a greater spotlight on this than ever. 

Limits to leisure activities and the cancellation of racing and sporting fixtures has, according to data from the Gambling Commission, led to a huge spike in betting on slots and casino games online. (table 3)

At the end of April, our research showed that 41% of online gamblers had signed up to new online accounts and those who gambled frequently were reporting to be concerned about addiction. 

Our polling has shown the public continuing to favour tighter restrictions, in particular for online gambling, wanting protections for children, and viewing the gambling industry as unfair and even associated with criminal activity. 

While support for change was seen across the political spectrum, Conservative voters were more likely to back tighter restrictions and Leave voters more firmly wanting change than Remain voters. 

Our latest research out today and below is a summary of some of themes which have been emerging.


Summary of findings

Online limits: Polling in waves over the last two months shows a consistent 79% of the public believe there should be limits on how much can be placed on a single online bet, and 82% on how much can be placed into online accounts. Views were consistent for both Labour and Conservative voters.

This chart from our April research revealed that 85% believe online casino and slot machines are addictive.

Reputation of gambling industry: 40% associate the industry with criminal activity, up three points from the previous month.

80% agree that only companies that pay tax in the UK should be allowed to operate in the UK. This is up 5 points in a month and includes 85% of Tory voters and 84% Labour, including 87% of Leave voters compared to 78% Remain.


Young and vulnerable people: There are high numbers in all categories who want to give greater protection to the young and vulnerable. 52% to 21%  (+18)   believe there isn’t adequate protection for the young and vulnerable.

Just 5% believe that under 18s should be exposed to gambling adverts, with 82%, including over 80% of Labour and Conservative voters in favour of a ban. 


Gambling behaviours

At the end of April, we found that: 

39% of people who gamble online at least once week had increased their gambling activity since the start of the lockdown. 

10% participate in online racing or sports betting weekly. Of the 5% who do online sports betting on a daily basis, they are overwhelmingly male, aged between 18 and 44, and a plurality say this activity has increased since the lockdown started.

The increase in online gambling activity since lockdown started is even more marked in those that say they take part 2-3 days a week.

Similarly, the most frequent users of offline gambling facilities (once a day or two to three times a week), such as betting shops which weren’t open during the lockdown, reported the largest increase in online gambling since the lockdown began.

And there have been even steeper rises in gambling from people who have been taking part in the more addictive online casino and slot games. 



41% of regular online gamblers have signed up to new accounts since April. 

34% of regular online gamblers think they are gambling too much or are developing an addiction

While traditionally we associate gambling addiction with younger men, the sharpest rises in online gambling since the lockdown has been in the slightly older 35-44 age group, in lower income groups, and from our research, this rise isn’t restricted to men. Our research found that of people who had gambled online pre lockdown at least once a week, 32% of woman reported an increase, to 29% of men. 32% of women also reported to have signed up to new online accounts and 22% of men. 

It is clear this is an issue that cuts across party political lines, and the strength of feeling among Conservative voters for change suggests this is one which will be concentrating the thoughts of ministers.

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