BGC Welcomes New NHS Health Survey Which Confirms Drop in Problem Gambling Rates

Problem gambling rates in England have fallen according to a new NHS Health Survey, published today.

The wide-ranging NHS Health Survey found problem gambling rates among adults is 0.4 per cent – down from 0.5 per cent in 2018.

According to the data, the problem gambling rates for men fell from 0.8 in 2018 to 0.6 in 2021, while, among women, it dropped from 0.3 in 2018 to 0.1 in 2021.

Approximately 22.5m adults enjoy a bet every month on the lottery, at bingo or in casinos, playing online or wagering on football, horseracing or other sports.

The comprehensive study – the most recent in England – surveyed over 3,700 people and used two criteria assessments to measure problem gambling among adults, the PGSI and DSM-IV scores.

Both the individual and combined figures from these two assessments confirmed a drop in problem gambling rates – which represents tens of thousands of people.

This study backs figures compiled in the Gambling Commission’s latest quarterly survey released this month which found the UK’s adult problem gambling rates were 0.3 per cent.

Both studies support the BGC’s calls for operators to use technology online to carefully identify and target the minority of vulnerable and at-risk players, using a range of markers of harm.

Measures set out in the Gambling Review backed this approach by outlining frictionless financial risk checks as one measure to tackle gambling-related harm without interfering with the vast majority who bet responsibly.

BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher, said: “We strongly welcome that another independent study has now confirmed that rates of problem gambling in England remain very low by international and indeed any other standards, and also appear to be falling, despite almost half of all adults enjoying a regular bet. This supports official figures from the GC that problem gambling is 0.3 per cent and statistically stable.

“This latest study by the NHS – the most comprehensive in three years – endorses our belief that the right approach is to use technology and multiple markers of harm to identify and carefully target problem play or vulnerable customers.

“We are pleased that the Government’s recent White Paper also rejected the blanket approach called for by the anti-gambling lobby who wanted to see intrusive, low level ‘affordability checks’. The study reinforces the fact that the overwhelming majority of millions of punters enjoy betting perfectly safely and responsibly, and punters rightly object to intrusive checks and blanket restrictions.

“While these figures are encouraging, we refuse to be complacent, and will continue to work with Government and our members to deliver on the White Paper and drive up standards. This study is another reality check for anti-gambling prohibitionists who lobby tirelessly to campaign on the basis of a fallacy that problem gambling is some kind of public health emergency. The hard evidence continues to disappoint them at every turn.”

BGC members regularly promote the use of safer gambling tools, like time outs and deposit limits, with over a million customers now using some form of safer gambling tool.

The regulated betting and gaming industry contributes £7.1bn to the economy, generates £4.2bn in tax and supports 110,000 jobs.

The BGC strongly support the Gambling Review, published last month, as a further opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling, but any changes introduced as a result of the White Paper must not drive gamblers towards the growing unsafe, unregulated black market online.

A recent study found the number of customers using unlicensed betting websites has more than doubled, from 210,000 in 2019 to 460,000 in 2020 while the money staked is in the billions.

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