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Gambling in COVID-19 Lockdown in the UK: Depression, Stress, and Anxiety

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Steve Sharman, Amanda Roberts, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, John Strang

Original languageEnglish
Article number621497
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Published25 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This study was funded by the National Addiction Centre (NAC), part of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, which is based at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. Funding Information: Conflict of Interest: In the last 3 years, SS has received funding from the Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA), and the NIHR. He is currently employed at the NAC, part of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and declares no conflicts. AR has received funding from Santander, Public Health for Lincoln, The Royal Society, The Maurice and Jacqueline Bennett Charitable Trust, East Midlands RDS and internal University of Lincoln awards. She has no conflicts of interest. HB-J is the Director of The National Problem Gambling Clinic which receives funds from the National Health Service and GambleAware. She is Honorary Professor at University College London. Board member, International Society of Addiction Medicine, Board member of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Addictions. President Elect of the Royal Society of Medicine Psychiatry Section. JS is a researcher and clinician who has worked with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations, and with pharmaceutical and technology companies to seek to identify new or improved treatments from whom his employer (King’s College London) has received honoraria, travel costs, and/or consultancy payments, but these do not have a relationship to the study and findings reported here. For a fuller account, see JS’s web-page at: http:// JS is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator and is supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. Publisher Copyright: © Copyright © 2021 Sharman, Roberts, Bowden-Jones and Strang. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


To combat the spread of COVID-19, the UK Government implemented a range of “lockdown” measures. Lockdown has necessarily changed the gambling habits of gamblers in the UK, and the impact of these measures on the mental health of gamblers is unknown. To understand the impact of lockdown on gamblers, in April 2020, after ~6 weeks of lockdown, participants (N = 1,028, 72% female) completed an online questionnaire. Gambling engagement data was collected for pre-lockdown via the Brief Problem Gambling Screen (BPGS) allowing participants to be classified as Non-Gamblers (NG), Non-Problem Gamblers (NPG) or Potential Problem Gamblers (PPG). The Depression, Stress, and Anxiety Scale (DASS21) was used to measure depression, stress, and anxiety scores both pre- and during-lockdown. Results indicate that depression, stress and anxiety has increased across the whole sample. Participants classified in the PPG group reported higher scores on each sub scale at both baseline and during lockdown. Increases were observed on each DASS21 subscale, for each gambler group, however despite variable significance and effect sizes, the magnitude of increases did not differ between groups. Lockdown has had a significant impact on mental health of participants; whilst depression stress and anxiety remain highest in potential problem gamblers, pre-lockdown gambler status did not affect changes in DASS21 scores.

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