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Gambling behaviour in 2021 Published Date: 09/03/2022

This statistical release covers the quarterly gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence data for the year to December 2021, as well as reporting on respondents’ perceptions of trust, crime, and attitudes towards gambling.

The year 2021 has seen the continuation of some Covid restrictions throughout Great Britain. The various lockdown rules and restrictions throughout the past two years have brought about wider consumer behavioural change and clearly have also had an impact on the gambling sector.

Key facts


  • overall participation in any gambling activity in the last four weeks (year to Dec 2021) is statistically stable at 43% compared to Year to Dec 2020. There hasn’t been a return to pre-Covid participation rates, illustrating the ongoing impact of the pandemic
  • in year to Dec 2021, participation in National Lottery draws remained stable (compared to year to Dec 2020), however, there has been a significant fall in those playing National Lottery branded scratchcards, which continues a longer-term decline in participation for this product
  • in year to Dec 2021, significantly fewer gamblers were gambling once a week and an increased proportion were gambling less than once a month compared to year to Dec 2020, indicating a slowdown in the frequency of gambling.

Problem and at risk gambling

In year to Dec 2021, the overall problem gambling rate is statistically stable at 0.3%, compared to year to Dec 2020. The moderate risk and low risk rates are also statistically stable at 0.8% and 1.9% respectively. This stability in 2021 follows previous significant decreases in the problem gambling and at risk rates as described in the Year to Sept 2021 release.


This is first year where we have seen a switch towards more positive perceptions of gambling shown by:

  • the proportion of past 12 month gamblers who agree that gambling is conducted fairly and can be trusted has significantly increased from 32% to 36% in year to Dec 21. Agreement is stable amongst the general population at 30%
  • significantly fewer respondents in year to Dec 21 agreed that ‘gambling is dangerous for family life’ (70%) compared to 75% in the previous year (year to Dec 2020)
  • the percentage of respondents agreeing that ‘gambling should be discouraged’ has also significantly decreased from 63% to 59% during this time.