If you don’t get the findings you want, just change the methodology until you do: Commission research pilot to include “information on broader gambling harms”

Gambling Commission research problem gambling related harms
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Not satisfied with its own official statistics that currently put the problem gambling rate in Britain at 0.3 percent, the Gambling Commission is testing a new methodology that it says will include “information on broader gambling harms”.


The Gambling Commission will pilot its new research schemes on gambling participation and prevalence over the next six months in a move include “information on broader gambling harms”.

Currently, the regulator’s official statistics provide a quarterly update on gambling participation and problem gambling, the latter of which has been stable – or even falling – over the last few years. Dropping to a record low of 0.3 percent in the year to September 2021, the problem gambling rate is typically measured by the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), which also measures what level of risk participants have of becoming problem gamblers, ranging from no risk to high risk.

However, at the beginning of the year, the Commission opened up a consultation on ‘research methodologies’, seeking feedback on a new approach to collecting gambling prevalence data. It then launched a research partner tender that saw the NatCen Social Research and the University of Glasgow appointed to lead the pilot phase of testing new methodologies. From October 2021 to March 2022, the Commission will look to these new research partners to pilot wider methodologies of stakeholder engagement and cognitive testing, alongside a new modified online survey. It is not yet known if this will still include the PGSI.

A statement from the UKGC read: “NatCen Social Research and the University of Glasgow in partnership with Bryson Purdon Social Research, will be testing a new methodology for collecting participation and prevalence statistics, including information on broader gambling harms.”

What this “information on broader gambling harms” entails also remains unknown, however it suggests there will be further measures of problem gambling beyond the PGSI scale. The Commission maintained that any prevalence data published as ‘official statistics’ will continue to be produced in accordance with the government’s Code of Practice for Statistics, and that it may give the regulator a more dynamic view of industry trends.

“We will continue to evaluate and develop the new approach with the aim of rolling on a continuous basis which will see the introduction of a single population survey for the whole of Great Britain and give the Commission the ability to gain timely insights and respond to emerging trends,” the UKGC concluded.

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