BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Are punters responding differently to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Many bookmakers will tell you that gamblers are a different breed to the rest of the general public. And as we have explored in previous columns, there is certainly some truth in that assertion. But there is a difference between looking at the demographic make-up of the gambler and examining their broader habits and attitudes.

Clearly there are myriad ways that these differences could be explored. For example, we could look for variations in dog ownership or car preference (gamblers are more likely to own a Staffie and a Vauxhall). But as interesting as that might be, it wouldn’t necessarily be terribly useful to readers of EGR.

So what we thought might be insightful is an exploration of gamblers’ economic experience of coronavirus, as well as some of their attitudes towards loosening restrictions.

As usual, we have defined gamblers as those who have placed a bet, either online or at a bookmakers, in the past 12 months. This is a relatively broad definition but it does ensure that we capture a robust sample size.

Perhaps the first thing to note is that our sports bettors group are significantly less likely to have seen a change in their employment than the general population. Two-fifths (43%) of gamblers said that there has been no change in their employment status compared to just 35% of the general public. That’s good news for them and, of course, for the gambling industry in general.

But that’s not to say that gamblers are unconcerned about the pandemic situation. For example, they are significantly more likely to tell us that they are very concerned for the local economy compared to the general population (39% v 34%). More than half (57%) are also concerned about the prospect of a global recession.

But for most (66%), there has been no short-term change in their household financial situation. And compared to the general population, gamblers are much less concerned about the prospect of losing their job (44% are not very or not at all worried compared to 36% of the general public).

Just over half (57%) are not at all concerned about paying their bills (compared to 11% who are very concerned and 29% who are concerned). In this respect they differ little from the general population. In addition, they are just as likely as the general public to be concerned about the prospect of banks failing as a result of the pandemic (37%).

Finally, let’s look at gamblers’ attitudes to loosening of lockdown.

As the chart below shows, they are – broadly speaking – more relaxed than the general public about easing restrictions on our social lives.

Across all of the premises listed here, gamblers are much more likely to feel fairly or very comfortable about visiting. That effect doesn’t just apply to social spaces like bars and restaurants but also exists when it comes to considering respondents’ places of work.

In fact, of all the places we asked about – from coffee shops, cinemas, and garden centres right through to hairdressers, clothes shops and gyms – gamblers are more likely to tell us that they feel relaxed about visiting.

Perhaps what all this data tells us is that gamblers are better at evaluating risk than the rest of the general public. Or perhaps they are simply more prepared to take that risk. Maybe, after all, they are a different breed altogether.

Photo by Albert Renn

BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Commercial Director

With over 15 years’ experience in the sports and sponsorship field, Charlie’s role at YouGov Sport is to develop new market opportunities as the company continues to grow internationally. He also assists established and future clients to get the most from YouGov Sport’s market-leading tools and research techniques.


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