Problem gambling rate stable, says findings of latest Health Survey

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The most recent national survey of gambling behaviour shows that – despite frequent rhetoric to the contrary – the incidence of problem-gambling within the UK populace is flat.

The latest combined Health Survey published by the Gambling Commission
suggests that there has been no discernible rise in the rate of problem gambling in the UK over the course of the past six years.

The latest research – conducted in 2016 by non-profit NatCen throughout England, Scotland and Wales – postulates 0.7 per cent to be the share of the UK population at risk of gambling-addiction, or just over one per cent of the gambling customer-base.

“The Health Survey,along with all of our evidence and data, indicates that the problem gambling rate in Great Britain is stable,” commented the regulator’s executive director Tim Miller.“ 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.”

Other core findings from the research indicate that 57 per cent of adults gamble in the UK each year – that’s a contraction of six per cent from the figure recorded in 2015. Men are still substantially the largest industry market – with 62 per cent of male respondents as opposed to 52 per cent of females surveyed confirming some gambling expenditure. Breaking down demographics further, non-lottery markets were most likely to be patronised by those in the 25-34 age-bracket.

This Health Survey is the latest document to be published by the Commission since the news last month that it planned to under- take a new research effort, in conjunction with its Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, which it says will aim to detail “the full range of harms ”gambling-addiction presents to society.

To that end, Miller’s latest statement has attempted to underline the need for the expanded research attempt – which looks set to lean heavily on operators for player-data.

“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.”

The Commission now claims that the Health Survey’s findings, along with the early-stages of its latest research program, will go on to “inform the direction” of the next National Responsible Gambling Strategy, set to launch in April next year.

What it won’t inform, regrettably, is the out of kilter commentary coming out of the Gambling Commission in recent years that implies completely the opposite to what the latest official survey has found. The continued insistence of the Commission to use old data rather than more up- to-date figures derived from its own surveys which show no discernible rise in problem gambling has enraged the industry,not least because it has established an uncomplimentary environment for their operations, and one based on false or inaccurate representations from the regulator.

The latest survey may confirm that the UK’s problem gambling levels are stable and among the lowest in the world; but its problems over interpreting problem gambling data are anything but stable.


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