UK problem gambling rates stable as participation falls

UK problem gambling rates stable as participation falls

Friday, September 7, 2018 Posted by News Team
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Survey finds 0.7% of UK adults have gambling problems

The percentage of UK gamblers developing problems has remained stable and the number of adults playing games of chance has fallen, according to the UK Gambling Commission’s latest combined health survey. 

The survey, collated using field research from 2016, revealed that 0.7% of UK gamblers were considered to have a problem, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) and Problem Gambling Severity Index scales. 

These were more likely to be men, with 1.2% of male players classed as problem gamblers, compared to just 0.2% of women. These findings were consistent with the 2012 and 2015 combined health surveys’ findings.

With 2.4 per cent of male gamblers aged between 25 and 34 classed as having a problem, this age group was found to be the most at-risk. There was no problem gambling detected among men aged 75 and over, and there was no significant variation in rates among females in different age groups. 

Those who played machines in bookmakers displayed the highest rates of problem gambling, with 13.7% of these players found to have unhealthy habits. This was followed by those who bet offline on events other that horse or dog racing, with 13.1% of players affected, and those gambling on products or verticals not covered by the survey, at 11.6 per cent. 

This was followed by betting on dog racing offline, for which 9.5% of players were considered problem gamblers, and people betting online on slots, casino or bingo games (9.2%).

Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller said that despite no increase in the rate of problem gambling, more effort was needed to push the percentage of UK adult sufferers down.

“The Health Survey, along with all of our evidence and data, indicates that the problem gambling rate in Great Britain is stable,” he said. “However, we want to see a sustained and significant reduction in the levels of problem gambling and will continue to drive the industry to build momentum towards this goal.”

The survey also revealed that UK adults were less likely to gamble. It revealed that 57% of UK adults had gambled in the past year, down 6% from 2015. In that period 62% of men gambled, compared to 52% of women. Lotteries were by far the most popular product; 41% of the people that had gambled in the past year had bought lottery tickets, with 21% buying National Lottery scratchcards. A further 14% bought tickets for other lotteries.

When the National Lottery players are stripped out of the results, participation drops to 42% of the population. In total 46% of men gambled on verticals other than the National Lottery, and 38% of women.

Aside from the 16-24 demographic, which mainly purchased scratchcards, National Lottery draws were the most popular form of gambling among all age groups. 

Looking at online gambling, just 9% of the UK’s adult population had played in the past year. Participation tended to decrease with age, from a high of 16% among those aged 25-34 years old.

The survey also found a correlation between gambling and alcohol consumption. Past year gambling rates were lowest among non-drinkers at 36%, but jumped to 59% for those that drank up to 14 units of alcohol a week. Those drinking more than 14 units each week were most likely to gamble - 69% of people in this group had done so in the past year. 

Miller said that the Gambling Commission would look beyond the figures in its fight to drive down problem gambling rates.

“Understanding the level of problem gambling is an important part of making gambling safer, but what this data won’t show is the extent of the harm someone may be experiencing, or the wider impact upon their families and their communities,” he said. 

“That is why, together with our expert advisers the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, we recently published a ground-breaking approach to understanding the full range of harms gambling can have on society.”

Published in July, this report aims to create a single definition of gambling-related harm to be used by policymakers and healthcare officials, as well as quantifying the social cost of gambling addiction. By doing so, it believes that these can be better monitored, allowing the UK to establish a framework to treat gambling addicts, their families and communities. 

This is being complemented by a new research programme that will run between 2018 and 2022. This is designed to inform the direction of the next National Responsible Gambling Strategy, which is set to launch in April 2019.

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