Over 50s enjoy a flutter, finds Saga Share Dealing

Friday 23 September 2016

• Half of over 50s gamble regularly, spending £18 a month on average • People in Yorkshire spend the most gambling each month • Shares remain a popular with over 50s, with 9.8 million owning them

Over 50s enjoy a flutter, finds Saga Share Dealing

The over 50s are keen gamblers as the thrill of a bet tempts almost half (47%) of people to have a flutter regularly, according to research by Saga Share Dealing1, while one in 10 feel more comfortable betting than investing in the stock market, despite the high odds of winning.

While some people are happy to buy a scratch card or lottery ticket every now and then, four out of ten over 50s gamble once a week and one in five say they place a wager at least two or three times a week.

Unsurprisingly men are the most likely to enjoy a flutter with one in five placing bets at least two or three times a week. However, a surprising one in eight women say they buy scratch cards, play bingo or head to the bookies a couple of times a week.

On average over 50s spend around £18 a month on gambling. However one in eight are willing to risk losing between £21 and £50 each month if it means they might win big on a bet.

Perhaps surprising given they are on a fixed income, retired people spend more on gambling than those who are still working typically £19 a month, compared to those who still work who spend £16.85. In fact, people in their 80s gamble £52 a month on average. 

People in Yorkshire spend the most out of any region on gambling, almost £32 a month, while people in the South West and Wales are risk averse as they spend the least at just £12.50 a month. The table below shows each region and the average monthly spend on gambling.



Almost one in 10 over 50s said they feel more comfortable gambling or betting than investing money in the stock market, despite the stratospheric odds of popular gambles such as the lottery2. Yet the stock market has the potential to yield a much more reliable return. Indeed, if over 50s had placed the average flutter of £18 per month into the FTSE 100 index3 over the past five years, they’d be sitting on a healthy £1,490 today, 38% more than was originally invested.

In fact, the majority of over 50s surveyed believe that investing in shares is a better way to spend their money. Almost two thirds (63%) believe it is safer to buy shares than gamble, while just 2% believed that gambling would yield a higher return than investing.

According the survey, 48% of over 50s – equivalent to 9.8 million people – own shares. Within this group, the highest share ownership (51%) is among people aged 80 to 89. Regionally, share ownership is highest in London, where 55% of over 50s own shares; the north east has the lowest share ownership at 37% of over 50s.

Joanna Fowler, head of share dealing at Saga Personal Finance, commented: “It is fun to place a bet and cheer a horse on in the Grand National or check your lottery ticket to see if your numbers come in, but its important people don’t bet beyond their means.

“If people have any spare cash at the end of the month that they don’t know what to do with they would be wise to consider buying shares instead of scratch cards as they may be more likely to see a return.

“It’s clear that with millions of over 50s owning shares, investing in the stock market is not just for sophisticated investors. With returns on cash falling to record lows, taking on some additional investment risk could help over 50s generate the income they need to support themselves in retirement.”


Notes to Editors

1. Populus interviewed 8,650 Saga customers, all aged 50+, online between 16th and 23rd May 2016. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

2. Odds on winning the National Lottery ‘Lotto’ are one in 45,057,474.

3. Figures derived from the iShares FTSE 100 tracker fund, with dividends reinvested. Returns net of all charges. Accurate to 13/09/2016

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