Gambling vs. health: these are the most dangerous casino games!
Gambling vs. health: these are the most dangerous casino games!

Gambling vs. health: these are the most dangerous casino games!

Obesity is an increasing problem. Exercise is an important health factor that is often lacking in gamblers, who often sit for hours at a machine or gaming table.

Therefore, we investigated the relationship between physical fitness and other quality of life factors in casino players of different disciplines such as poker, blackjackbaccarat, slot machines and Roulette.

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In total, results from more than 2000 British casino players were analyzed and came to the following conclusions:

  1. Slot machine players are the unhealthiest gamblers and are slightly overweight on average with a body mass index of 31. 24% of them are smokers. In addition, the most alcohol is consumed among slot players and this is mainly by female players.
  2. Video poker players have the second highest average BMI in the study at 30
  3. Roulette, blackjack and dice gamblers are within the normal weight range of a BMI of 27.
  4. Poker players and Baccarat players have the second lowest BMI at 25. Poker also has the youngest study participants, with an average age of 38. Nevertheless, poker players drink the most alcohol after slot players.
  5. Pai Gow Poker seems to be the healthiest, as Pai Gow Poker players only had an average BMI of 23.
  6. The average age of all participants was 43 years and has a BMI of 27. 58% were male, 42% female.


The slot machine game, summarised as "Slots", was the most popular game in the survey and was played by 51% of casino players. The BMI average of slot machine players is 31, the highest in this study.

Video Poker

After slot machine players, video poker players had the second highest BMI with an average of 30. Thus, both slot machine players and video poker players are at higher risk of disease and have a shorter life expectancy.


Interestingly, poker is the second most popular casino game but has the second lowest average BMI along with baccarat at 25. A BMI between 19 and 25 is generally considered healthy. So poker players are actually below the national average of 27 BMI points.

Pai Gow

According to the study, Pai Gow players are the healthiest. They have an average body mass index of 23. Pai Gow originated in China and only became known in the West in the 1980s. The game is still particularly widespread, but enjoys great popularity among players of Asian descent. Asians are generally less prone to obesity, which may also be a reason for the good performance of Pai Gow players in the BMI ranking. In addition, there were very few players who said that Pai Gow was their favourite game, so the results are not particularly representative.


The results for Baccarat players are similar to those for Poker and Pai Gow. The BMI of baccarat players was also below the national average at 25. Baccarat, like Pai Gow, is also popular with Asians, who generally have a lower BMI.

Other Casino Games

The average BMIs for other casino players were all above the UK national average.


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The overall BMI average of all gamblers surveyed was 27.2, reflecting the UK national average. This means that casino players are no unhealthier or healthier than the average consumer who never sets foot in a casino. set would.

Casino gameMost popular game atBMI cut
Video Poker10.4%30
Pai Gow0.6%23

The Table shows the popularity of the game and the average BMI of the players

Alcohol consumption in the casino

Looking at the answers of the study participants regarding their alcohol consumption, it is noticeable that slot machine, poker and baccarat players consume more than the weekly recommended maximum of alcohol. Accordingly, more than 20% of players of these games drink too much alcohol. Overall, 44% of all male players and 31% of all female players exceed the maximum. However, these values are based on the statements of those concerned, who as a rule tend to underplay. The true value is therefore likely to be even higher.

In connection with the BMI values it is noticeable that poker players pursue a more active lifestyle in order to lower their BMI value despite the increased alcohol consumption, while in the case of slot machine players overweight and alcohol consumption go hand in hand.

The average poker player is 28 years old. 60% of poker players have studied at a university.

Furthermore, one can see a correlation between age and BMI values. The average BMI value increases with the age of the players.

Gender differences

Slot players have the highest percentage of regular alcohol consumers. Among all female slots players, more than a quarter drink more than the recommended maximum level of alcohol. Among male slots players, the figure is around one fifth.

There are also more women than men who consume alcohol in video poker. While approximately 20% of female video poker players drink too much alcohol, only 10% of male video poker players do.

This shows that casino games that are preferably played by women, such as slot machines or video poker, have a higher level of alcohol consumption. At the same time, this increased alcohol consumption most likely also leads to higher BMI values of this group.


Casino players smoke on average 4% more than the UK average of 20%.

The most smokers play Pai Gow: 46%. This is followed by baccarat players with 25% and slot players with 24%. Dice players are around the national average. Poker players slightly below.

Results on physical activity

Slot machine and video poker players were the least likely of all casino players to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity. Only 27 % of slot players and 28 % of video poker players reported achieving the recommended 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of physical activity [19] per week. Poker players were the most physically active in our survey, with a significant 58 % achieving the recommended levels.

After slot machines and video poker, dice and baccarat players were the least physically active, with only 33 % and 34 %, respectively, being physically active for 150 minutes per week. According to the British Heart Foundation, the national average for meeting physical activity requirements is 34 % [20], so slot machine, video poker, dice and baccarat players all move less than average.

Little or no exercise contributes to having a higher than average BMI as found in the slots and video poker participants. We can therefore safely conclude that the lack of exercise among slots and video poker players is another factor contributing to the high BMI of these two groups.

Percentage of respondents meeting recommended physical activity guidelines categorized by casino gaming preference

As with alcohol consumption, there are often biases in self-reporting. People tend to overestimate the amount of physical activity they engage in [21], so it is reasonable to assume that the actual percentage of people meeting the physical activity guidelines is even lower than stated.

Regardless, poker, roulette, blackjack, and pai gow players all exceeded the national average for physical activity requirements.

Why would that be, that more poker players meet the physical activity requirements? Well, assuming poker players weren't bluffing us and really did exercise as much as they claimed, we know that poker players are indeed concerned about the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on their mental and physical well-being [22].

With longer tournaments and longer sessions at the online and live tables required to make a profit, poker is a mental and physical endurance game. Certainly more so than slots and roulette.

Stuart Rutter, a leading British poker pro with hundreds of thousands of dollars in career winnings, commented:

'About two or three years ago, almost out of nowhere, a new trend emerged among young British poker players to get fit, go to the gym and lose weight,' he says. 'I think that suits poker players because they naturally like a challenge and a goal. You only have to look at the more successful players these days - they're the ones who have a fitness routine and a balanced lifestyle.

Gambling platform results

We also asked our respondents where they mainly play casino games. Regardless of which games our respondents played, the most popular way to play games was using a desktop computer. On average, 65% of respondents played on their desktop computer; just over one-fifth of our survey respondents played casino games on their mobile or tablet device; and only 14% of respondents visit casinos indoors.

Where do our respondents play casino games?

Looking at the percentage of desktop players for each game with the average BMI for those games, there appears to be a positive correlation between the two (see Figure 6 below). The higher the percentage of desktop players, the higher the average BMI.

The positive relationship between the two could be attributed to the fact that desktop gamers generally have an unhealthier lifestyle compared to mobile and land-based gamers. This result is reinforced by the fact that no such trend was observed when comparing the percentage of mobile and land-based gamers with the average BMI.

A similar positive relationship was found when comparing the percentage of gamers drinking more than the recommended weekly limit to the percentage of desktop gamers. This suggests that excessive alcohol consumption may contribute to the higher average BMI among desktop gamers. In addition, no relationship was found when the percentage of smokers and the percentage of gamers meeting the exercise requirement were compared to the percentage of desktop gamers. These results suggest that excessive alcohol consumption is the largest contributing factor to the higher BMI among desktop gamers.

Conversion to Mobile

In contrast to desktop gamers, games with a higher proportion of mobile gamers did not correlate positively with a higher average BMI. Furthermore, games with a higher proportion of mobile gamers also did not correlate with higher rates of smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or physical inactivity. These results suggest that mobile gaming does not contribute to increased BMI.

20 % of respondents primarily played with their mobile phones, but the acceptance of mobile Gambling is reportedly on the rise: it is estimated that 164 million people will use mobile phones for online gaming by 2018 [23]. The proliferation of smartphones (and tablets) and faster internet speeds have fuelled the growth of mobile casinos and could lead to a shift away from desktop use.

Perhaps switching to mobile casinos could have a positive effect on health and lowering BMI. People can access mobile casinos from anywhere and do not have to sit at a desk to play. This could move people away from the sedentary lifestyle associated with desktop gaming and encourage them to incorporate mobile gaming into an active lifestyle.

Tam Fry FRSA [24] is a spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum and reiterated our claim that shifting to mobile phones can lead to health benefits.

'A sedentary lifestyle is associated with a loss of physical activity. But that's not all - it's also linked to snacking on foods that are packed with sugar and calories,' Mr Fry explained. 'Maybe in 5-10 years there will be a ray of hope on the horizon as we move around and use tablets and mobile devices on the go. Research actually shows that we are spending less time in front of the TV. We may become a more mobile society, but we could see an improvement in health in that time frame. At this stage, however, it's a 'maybe'.

Differences by gender

The gender distribution of all casino games combined gave a distribution of 58% males and 42% females. Male dominance ran through all casino games except slots and video poker. Here, women had the upper hand with just over 53% each.

Slot games and bingo are women's games. But the growing popularity of online casinos brings more and more women to play other games as well.

Percentage of respondents who gamble in land-based casinos, categorized by casino gambling preference

The female majority found in slot players is also interesting because they were the group with the highest average BMI. Recent research published in the Lancet Medical Journal [27] found that high BMI was associated with 17 types of cancer. There was also evidence that additional weight gain was linearly associated with an increased risk of six cancers. Two cancers affecting women were on this list, with uterine cancer having the highest increased risk and cervical cancer having the fourth highest increased risk. There was also an increased risk for gallbladder, kidney, and thyroid cancers, as well as leukemia.

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