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Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis

Scott Houghton, Frederic Boy Orcid Logo, Alexander Bradley Orcid Logo, Richard James Orcid Logo, Heather Wardle Orcid Logo, Simon Dymond Orcid Logo

Journal of Behavioral Addictions

Swansea University Authors: Scott Houghton, Frederic Boy Orcid Logo, Simon Dymond Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Whilst some research has explored the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour, little is yet known about online search behaviours for gambling during this period. The current study explored gambling-related online searches before, during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We...

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Published in: Journal of Behavioral Addictions
ISSN: 2062-5871 2063-5303
Published: Budapest, Hungary Akademiai Kiado Zrt. 2023
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa64728
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The current study explored gambling-related online searches before, during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We also assessed whether search trends were related to Gambling Commission behavioural data over the same period. Methods: Google Trends search data, covering thirty months from January 2020 to June 2022, for five gambling activities and five gambling operators were downloaded. Graphical displays of the weekly relative search values over this period were then produced to visualise trends in search terms, with key dates in COVID-19 policy and sporting events highlighted. Cross-correlations between seasonally adjusted monthly search data and behavioural indices were conducted. Results: Sharp increases in internet searches for poker, slots, and bingo were evident during the first lockdown in the UK, with operator searches sharply decreasing over this period. No changes in gambling activity searches were highlighted during subsequent lockdowns, although small increases in operator-based searches were detected. Strong positive correlations were found between search data and industry data for sports betting and poker but not for slots. Conclusions: Google Trends data may act as an indicator of population-level gambling behaviour. Substitution of preferred gambling activities for others may have occurred during the first lockdown when opportunities for sports betting were limited. 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spelling v2 64728 2023-10-12 Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis d0d9822896ad9aa07848209148d4dd54 Scott Houghton Scott Houghton true false 43e704698d5dbbac3734b7cd0fef60aa 0000-0003-1373-6634 Frederic Boy Frederic Boy true false 8ed0024546f2588fdb0073a7d6fbc075 0000-0003-1319-4492 Simon Dymond Simon Dymond true false 2023-10-12 HPS Whilst some research has explored the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour, little is yet known about online search behaviours for gambling during this period. The current study explored gambling-related online searches before, during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We also assessed whether search trends were related to Gambling Commission behavioural data over the same period. Methods: Google Trends search data, covering thirty months from January 2020 to June 2022, for five gambling activities and five gambling operators were downloaded. Graphical displays of the weekly relative search values over this period were then produced to visualise trends in search terms, with key dates in COVID-19 policy and sporting events highlighted. Cross-correlations between seasonally adjusted monthly search data and behavioural indices were conducted. Results: Sharp increases in internet searches for poker, slots, and bingo were evident during the first lockdown in the UK, with operator searches sharply decreasing over this period. No changes in gambling activity searches were highlighted during subsequent lockdowns, although small increases in operator-based searches were detected. Strong positive correlations were found between search data and industry data for sports betting and poker but not for slots. Conclusions: Google Trends data may act as an indicator of population-level gambling behaviour. Substitution of preferred gambling activities for others may have occurred during the first lockdown when opportunities for sports betting were limited. Further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of internet search data in predicting gambling-related harm. Journal Article Journal of Behavioral Addictions Akademiai Kiado Zrt. Budapest, Hungary 2062-5871 2063-5303 COVID-19, pandemic, public health, gambling, activities, operators 12 10 2023 2023-10-12 10.1556/2006.2023.00055 http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.2023.00055 COLLEGE NANME Psychology COLLEGE CODE HPS Swansea University External research funder(s) paid the OA fee (includes OA grants disbursed by the Library) Gambling Research Exchange Ontario 2023-11-08T15:49:33.7096668 2023-10-12T09:14:27.5802671 Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences School of Psychology Scott Houghton 1 Frederic Boy 0000-0003-1373-6634 2 Alexander Bradley 0000-0003-4304-7653 3 Richard James 0000-0002-6644-7011 4 Heather Wardle 0000-0003-1361-3706 5 Simon Dymond 0000-0003-1319-4492 6 64728__28860__ebef54d59aa6492dbd5e69333a94c9f7.pdf 62728.VOR.pdf 2023-10-23T17:21:38.9990441 Output 1522214 application/pdf Version of Record true © 2023 The Author(s). Distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). true eng https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
title Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis
spellingShingle Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis
Scott Houghton
Frederic Boy
Simon Dymond
title_short Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis
title_full Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis
title_fullStr Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis
title_full_unstemmed Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis
title_sort Tracking online searches for gambling activities and operators in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Google Trends™ analysis
author_id_str_mv d0d9822896ad9aa07848209148d4dd54
43e704698d5dbbac3734b7cd0fef60aa
8ed0024546f2588fdb0073a7d6fbc075
author_id_fullname_str_mv d0d9822896ad9aa07848209148d4dd54_***_Scott Houghton
43e704698d5dbbac3734b7cd0fef60aa_***_Frederic Boy
8ed0024546f2588fdb0073a7d6fbc075_***_Simon Dymond
author Scott Houghton
Frederic Boy
Simon Dymond
author2 Scott Houghton
Frederic Boy
Alexander Bradley
Richard James
Heather Wardle
Simon Dymond
format Journal article
container_title Journal of Behavioral Addictions
publishDate 2023
institution Swansea University
issn 2062-5871
2063-5303
doi_str_mv 10.1556/2006.2023.00055
publisher Akademiai Kiado Zrt.
college_str Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
hierarchytype
hierarchy_top_id facultyofmedicinehealthandlifesciences
hierarchy_top_title Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
hierarchy_parent_id facultyofmedicinehealthandlifesciences
hierarchy_parent_title Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
department_str School of Psychology{{{_:::_}}}Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences{{{_:::_}}}School of Psychology
url http://dx.doi.org/10.1556/2006.2023.00055
document_store_str 1
active_str 0
description Whilst some research has explored the impact of COVID-19 on gambling behaviour, little is yet known about online search behaviours for gambling during this period. The current study explored gambling-related online searches before, during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We also assessed whether search trends were related to Gambling Commission behavioural data over the same period. Methods: Google Trends search data, covering thirty months from January 2020 to June 2022, for five gambling activities and five gambling operators were downloaded. Graphical displays of the weekly relative search values over this period were then produced to visualise trends in search terms, with key dates in COVID-19 policy and sporting events highlighted. Cross-correlations between seasonally adjusted monthly search data and behavioural indices were conducted. Results: Sharp increases in internet searches for poker, slots, and bingo were evident during the first lockdown in the UK, with operator searches sharply decreasing over this period. No changes in gambling activity searches were highlighted during subsequent lockdowns, although small increases in operator-based searches were detected. Strong positive correlations were found between search data and industry data for sports betting and poker but not for slots. Conclusions: Google Trends data may act as an indicator of population-level gambling behaviour. Substitution of preferred gambling activities for others may have occurred during the first lockdown when opportunities for sports betting were limited. Further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of internet search data in predicting gambling-related harm.
published_date 2023-10-12T15:49:37Z
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