UK Regulator, BGC Question Estimate 1.4m Are Experiencing Harm

March 24, 2022
The Gambling Commission has said charity GambleAware’s estimate of 1.4m people experiencing gambling-related harms in Great Britain is likely to be affected by its differing online methodology.


The Gambling Commission has said charity GambleAware’s estimate of 1.4m people experiencing gambling-related harms in Great Britain is likely to be affected by its differing online methodology.

A spokesperson for the regulator said that “regardless of methodology it is important that we all recognise that there are a significant number of people who suffer harm, and we are committed to making gambling safer”.

“It is also worth noting that we are currently piloting a new methodology for the collection of official national gambling statistics to improve the frequency, depth, and currency of our data,” a commission spokesperson told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

The next stage of the Gambling Commission plans is to create a pilot report evaluating the impact of the proposed methodology change in April 2022.

The UK’s overall problem gambling rate and moderate risk rate decreased to 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent respectively over the past year, according to regulator data released in September 2021.

Trade group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said it “does not recognise” GambleAware’s latest figures, as according to the Gambling Commission’s data there are only 170,000 problem gamblers in the country.

“We strongly support the Gambling Review as a further opportunity to raise standards, but it is vitally important it strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and not spoiling the enjoyment of the vast majority who enjoy a flutter safely,” the BGC told VIXIO.

GambleAware’s publication was caveated with a statement warning online surveys often lead to higher estimates of prevalence compared with face-to-face or telephone surveys, meaning the estimate may reflect the "upper bounds on the ‘true’ rate of prevalence of gambling harms, at least relative to other survey methods (which could also be underestimated)".

However, it added that all survey methodologies involve different biases and "there is no ‘true’ or ‘gold standard’ estimate of the number of people experiencing gambling harms".

The figures come from the Annual GB Treatment & Support Survey 2021 of 18,038 adults.

The estimated number of people experiencing gambling harms was produced by YouGov, which estimated 2.8 percent of adults in Great Britain were classified as exhibiting problem gambling, according to the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI).

The latest National Gambling Treatment Service (NGTS) annual statistics show that in 2020/21 only 8,490 individuals accessed support from the NGTS.

“This means that the number of people currently requiring NGTS support is over 160 times higher than the number of people who receive NGTS support each year, or that for each person receiving support, more than 160 others do not,” according to GambleAware.

Elsewhere in Europe, problem gambling rates do not vary massively from GambleAware’s UK estimate.

In Ireland, an estimated 2.3 percent of the adult population met the criteria for low-risk gambling, 0.9 percent were moderate-risk gamblers and 0.3 percent were problem gamblers.

The Irish figures come from a bulletin published by the Health Research Board (HRB) presenting the findings from the 2019–20 National Drug and Alcohol Survey (NDAS) and are based on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI).

A recent German gambling survey conducted by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Addiction and Drug Research (ISD) and the University of Bremen estimated 2.3 percent of the population aged 18-70 years have a “gambling disorder, 1.1 percent have a mild disorder, 0.7 percent have a moderate disorder and 0.5 percent severe disorder 0.5 percent".

Finland’s problem gambling rate is 0.8 percent, a massive drop compared with 2.8 percent in 2005, according to a survey undertaken by Finnish market research firm Taloustutkimus Oy.

The Swedish longitudinal gambling study (Swelogs) in 2018 estimated 2.9 percent of the population had some risk of gambling problems, 0.7 percent had an increased risk of gambling problems and 0.6 percent had gambling problems.

In Autumn 2021, new data was collected for Swelogs; however, it will not be published until later this year.

A Spanish Ministry of Health survey found the rate of disordered gambling in the country decreased to 2.2 percent in 2019 from 2.6 percent in the same survey two years earlier.

In total, the ministry estimated 670,000 people aged 15 to 64 years have engaged in possible problem gambling or disorder gambling.

A recent example of increasing problem gambling rates is in the Australian online gambling market, according to Gambling Research Australia’s study.

Although the overall gambling rate for the wider population fell from 64.3 percent to 56.9 percent, the rate of problem gambling more than doubled from 0.6 percent to 1.23 percent, the survey said.

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