UK Gambling Commission: More Gaming Activity, Problem Gambling Near Nil

The UK Gambling Commission just released the results of a new survey on gambling in the country. Participation is on the rise, but problem gambling, at just 0.2%, is virtually nonexistent.

UK Gambling
UK Gambling
UK Gambling is on the rise, including sports betting. However, problem gambling is almost nonexistent. (Image: Getty Images)

Every quarter, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) conducts a phone survey to see how popular gambling is with the British. The latest results are in, and it’s safe to say that problem gambling apparently is not a problem.

The survey reached out to 4,018 adults over the age of 16 across the UK to learn about their gambling habits. Some 43.3% of the respondents acknowledged gambling in some form, with 26% favoring in-person activity.

25.7% preferred online options, mirroring a trend that began two years ago. However, even though these two figures are increases from the same period last year, problem gambling remains virtually undetectable at 0.2%. That’s lower than what previous surveys determined.

More Gambling, Less Problems

Men are still more likely to gamble than women, with the survey showing that men between 45 and 54 years old fell into the most-common gambler category. In-person gambling added 3% to the 23% reported a year ago, an obvious result of the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions across the country.

Sports betting wasn’t overly popular, with only 5.2% of the survey participants acknowledging having placed a wager. The big winner was the National Lottery, which covered 27.2% of the survey. Instant-win lottery options, such as scratch-offs, received 7.2%, and 3.4% participated in online slot gaming.

In addition to an almost imperceptible rate of problem gambling, the “moderate- and low-risk rates” were insignificant, as well. The survey, which Yonder Consulting regularly conducts for the UKGC, put the rates at 0.9% and 1.4%, respectively. The commission brushed off the decline, calling it “not statistically significant.”

Calls for More Action

Anything with a 0.2% rate barely registers on any meter (even non-alcoholic beer has 0.5% alcohol by volume). Still, it’s enough for the UK’s gambling industry to continue to receive pressure to focus more on problem gambling.

GambleAware is joining that push. The problem gambling prevention and treatment charity has voiced its support for a 1% tax on gross gambling yield for all operators. This, it asserts, would lead to $140 million a year in revenue to fight gambling addiction.

Without action now, many more people and families could suffer. That’s why we are calling on the government to introduce a mandatory, one per cent levy of GGY on the gambling industry as a condition of licence,” says GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond.

Operators already provide voluntary contributions that have, in part, provided hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the UKGC. In addition, they also contribute to GambleAware, and gave $21 million in donations last year. This isn’t enough, though, and some organizations want a mandatory fee.

More Global Attention Needed

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) just completed a study that found a great deal of disparity in how different countries address problem gambling. The research found that, out of the 20 European countries included in the study, only 12 conducted regular problem gambling surveys.

Among the 12, each has its own procedures – some use health as the foundation; others use population. In addition, problem gambling screening protocols vary greatly from one country to another.

As a result, the EGBA would like for gaming regulators to come together and collaborate on their responsible gambling efforts. This, asserts EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer, would “support an open and inclusive dialogue with other stakeholders about best practices.”

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