Changes in gambling advertising during national COVID-19 ‘lockdowns’, when stay-at-home rules restricted participation in certain gambling activities, provides important context to variance in gambling behaviour during these periods. This study describes expenditure on paid-for gambling advertising during three national lockdowns, compares expenditure to pre-pandemic estimates, and compares changes in expenditure by subsector. Data come from an observational study of weekly expenditure on paid-for gambling advertising in the United Kingdom (n = 135 weeks; beginning 2019 to mid-2021), focusing on three COVID-19 lockdowns: (1) March-May 2020; (2) November-December 2020; and (3) January-March 2021. We descriptively analysed how total advertising expenditure in each lockdown (£GBP, inflation-adjusted) compared to the same time points in 2019, both overall and by subsector (bookmakers, lotteries, online bingo, online casino and poker, gaming, pools, mobile content). Gambling advertising expenditure during lockdown one was 38.5% lower than 2019 (£43.5 million[m] vs. £70.7 m, respectively), with decreases across all subsectors (range: -81.7% [bookmakers] to -2.8% [online bingo]). Total advertising expenditure in lockdown two was 49.3% higher than 2019 (£51.7 m vs. £34.6 m), with increases for 5/7 subsectors (range: -31.6% [mobile content] to + 103.8% [bookmakers]). In lockdown three, advertising expenditure was 5.9% higher than 2019 (£91.2 m vs. £86.1 m), with increases for 4/7 subsectors (range: -92.4% [pools] to + 49.2% [mobile content]). Reductions in advertising expenditure in lockdown one are congruent with self-reported reductions in overall gambling also observed during this period. Further research is needed to determine whether increased advertising expenditure in lockdowns two and three correlates with increased gambling, overall and for specific subsectors.

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Critchlow, N., Hunt, K., Wardle, H. & Stead, M. 2022, 'Expenditure on paid-for gambling advertising during the national COVID-19 ‘lockdowns’: an observational study of media monitoring data from the United Kingdom', Journal of Gambling Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-022-10153-3

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Last updated: 15 September 2022
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