Online gambling and associated harms during the COVID-19 pandemic: A population study
The gambling industry has been severely impacted by the health crisis. In several countries, lockdowns have resulted in a migration to online gambling, the changing of game offering and player habits. From a public health perspective, one of the issues related to online gambling is the harms associated with them. Research questions. This study aims to provide a portray of online gambling habits in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and examine the co-occurrence of substance use and mental health problems. Method. The study included two subsamples of adults aged 18 and over residing in the province of Québec (Canada): 1) a telephone survey conducted with a random sample (N=1,300) using a two-stage proportional stratified sampling design (households, individuals), and 2) a sample recruited through a web panel (N=3,200). Results. The analysis revealed an increase in gambling participation and initiation during the pandemic. The various profiles of online gamblers will be compared in terms of harm, substance use and mental health as well as the perceived impact of the pandemic on the various behaviours. Discussion. This study will provide the first populational portray of the impact of the pandemic on habits of a representative sample of online gamblers. The findings will serve to inform key stakeholders and raise awareness about the harm associated with online gambling.