The UK’s overall problem gambling rate and moderate risk rate have decreased over the past year, according to the Gambling Commission’s latest data.
Problem gambling rates in the UK fell to just 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2021, declining from 0.6 percent during the same period in the previous year.
The moderate risk rate also declined from 1.2 percent in September 2020 to 0.7 percent in 2021.
Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) CEO Michael Dugher called the findings “excellent” on social media.
“The overall rate of people at any level of risk is falling and was the joint-lowest recorded in the Gambling Commission’s data going back to 2016. There is more work to do, but the regulated industry is making good progress,” Dugher said.
In a separate press release, the BGC highlighted its members' initiatives such as promoting safer gambling tools, investing more in research and treatment and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes, as well as changes to game design.
The game design rules were later adopted by the Gambling Commission and the VIP changes were absorbed into more stringent requirements laid out by the regulator.
Dugher vowed to “keep up the momentum”, but warned that “the anti-gambling lobby who take a prohibitionist approach” will always apply pressure on the industry regardless of the stats.
“It’s vital we don’t do anything that drives people to the unsafe, unregulated black market online, which has none of the protections or safer gambling interventions that we see with licensed operators,” Dugher said.
His comments came as charity representatives released their own PR focusing on increasing gambling prevalence rates recorded in the data, warning they were the sign of an impending “crisis”.
Gambling treatment provider UKAT said that a 3 percent rise in the number of women gambling and a 4 percent rise in 25-34 year olds was the “tip of the iceberg”.
“We know that thousands more will be gambling online and will continue to do so. Online gambling can be very addictive as it’s so readily available, easily concealed and extremely enticing. It’s advertised as a form of escapism, and is evidently attracting more women and those aged 55 and over than ever before,” said Nuno Albuquerque, the head of treatment for UKAT.
“We’re also concerned about the rise in the 25-34 year olds; mostly because we know that online gambling is being encouraged by some celebrity influencers, which is incredibly dangerous and quite frankly disgraceful. They could be instigating a crisis like no other,” he said.
The findings came from the Gambling Commission’s quarterly telephone survey, which monitors gambling participation and problem gambling.
Overall participation in gambling fell in the last four weeks and remained stable at 42 percent.
However, year-over-year to September 2021, the online gambling participation rate increased by 2 percent to 25 percent.
Comparatively, in-person gambling participation is down by 5 percent to 24 percent.
The regulator’s stats include a disclaimer that “much of the online increase can be explained by increasing proportions of respondents playing National Lottery draws online”.
Additional reporting by Joe Ewens