January 15, 2014

Problem gambling declines in the UK

The UK Gambling Commissions recent survey contained in the Health Survey for England shows a decline in overall gambling and also a reduction in problem gambling within the UK population.

The data, contained in the Health Survey for England (2012) show that 65% of adults (almost 28 million people) in England gambled in the past year. Excluding those who gamble only on the National Lottery draw, the figure is 43%.

The rate of problem gambling in the adult population is estimated to be 0.5% on one measure and 0.4% on the other measure used (see notes).

The Health Survey gambling questions were designed to be broadly comparable with the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey, which gave figures for Great Britain of 73% for gambling participation (56% excluding those who had only gambled on the National Lottery draw), with problem gambling at 0.9% and 0.7% on the corresponding measures.

While firm trend figures will not be available until further health surveys, patterns of decline have also been seen in data collected through the Gambling Commission omnibus survey, and the patterns of distribution for gambling participation appear to remain broadly stable. In particular, younger men tend to gamble on a wide range of activities including those associated more strongly with problem gambling. Problem gambling also appears to be more prevalent in areas where the local environment is more challenging in terms of health deprivation. This supports the need for more targeted efforts to prevent and mitigate the risks in these groups.

The Commission will publish its own in-depth analysis in a series of papers to be published next spring, drawing on the data from both this Survey and the Scottish Health Survey.

Rebekah Eden, the Commission’s Programme Director – Evidence and Analysis, said:
“The figures suggest that fewer people are experiencing gambling problems directly, but that there are groups of the population where the risks remain significantly greater. This puts even greater emphasis on the industry finding ways to identify people who are suffering problems or who are at risk, and intervening effectively.”

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