Final GC problem gambling stats show little change

The quarterly telephone survey is to be the final edition of the statistics compiled by the regulator, with the Commission planning to replace it with a “new Gambling Survey for Great Britain”. The first version of which is due to be released in November of this year.

The data – which is conducted on behalf of the GC by Yonder Consulting – consists of a nationally representative sample of 4,002 adults aged 16 or over interviewed via telephone in March 2023.

Overall, there was little significant change in the number from those reported in the survey that was supervised by Yonder in the same period the previous year.

Problem gambling rates remain “statistically stable” in March

The headline problem gambling rate, as measured by the short form Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), remained statistically stable at 0.3%. While this is 0.1% higher than the 0.2% reported in the prior period, the small sample size means that there is little statistical difference between the numbers.

the in-person gambling rate remains below its pre-pandemic peak

The moderate and low risk rates also remained statistically stable at 1.2% and 1.8% respectively compared to March 2022. Nevertheless, the number was higher in absolute terms than last year, which correspondingly measured the risk rates at 0.9% and 1.4% of the total adult population.

The in-person gambling participation rate also was stable compared to the March 2022 period at 27%. However, this is still significantly below the 35% who answered positively to the survey in the pre-pandemic period.

The online gambling participation rate also demonstrated little difference from the same period last year, with 26% of all UK adults joining in on the activity. This result also matched the 26% reported in March 2022.  

Key trends from Gambling Commission telephone survey over time

The telephone survey is set to be replaced by a new National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) developed methodology. Following a May 2022 pilot, the Commission approved the project, despite some criticisms that the new survey oversampled problem gamblers.

As the body responsible for conducting the data collection effort from 2016, Yonder released a report examining the key trends over the lifetime of the survey.

Yonder highlighted that, while there had been some variations in participation over the period, there was not a “dramatic or sustained” increase in overall gambling participation, with rates being “significantly higher” in 2016 versus 2022 and 2023.

In-person gambling activity was greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with rates yet to return to pre-pandemic levels – especially for lottery participation.

Participation in online gambling grows steadily over seven-year period

Online has now replaced in-person as the most frequent method of National Lottery ticket purchase. Individuals aged 65 and over still prefer buying tickets in-person as opposed to online methods.

older age groups experienced the largest participation increases in online gaming

The participation in online gaming has grown steadily over the seven-year period, with older age groups experiencing the largest increases. Although men are more likely to bet online than women, both groups have seen an increase in participation over the period.

One negative trend that can be clearly seen is that the proportion of individuals stating that gambling is conducted fairly and can be trusted peaked at the beginning of the period, before continuing on a downward trajectory. Trust notably saw significant lows from Q3 2019 to Q3 2020 before becoming “relatively stable” in the subsequent period.

On a more positive note, the period from the end of 2020 onward saw the proportion of those queried classified as moderate and low risk significantly fall. The proportion of problem gamblers peaked in Q3 2016 and has stayed “relatively stable” since.

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