New reports says more data needed on UK problem gambling

The research was funded by the Gambling Commission.
The research was funded by the Gambling Commission.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research report suggests the problem gambling rate is higher than what the Gambling Commission estimates.

UK.- Research funded by the Gambling Commission and conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has estimated that problem gambling affects 0.7 per cent of the British population. That’s higher than the latest figure published by the Gambling Commission (0.3 per cent in its last two quarterly surveys).

The study entitled Fiscal Costs and Benefits of Problem Gambling: Towards Better Estimates also calculated the fiscal cost of problematic gambling at £1.40bn per year. That’s mostly due to welfare support but also healthcare, criminal justice costs and homelessness.

The average fiscal cost per person experiencing problem gambling was around £3,700 per year. However, the study suggested that the figures are probably an underestimate.

It said: “Due to a lack of publicly available data, it has not been possible to include the costs to ‘affected others’, which arise from the links between gambling, debt and family breakdown, or the costs of suicide linked to problem gambling.”

More problem gambling data needed

Researchers made several proposals for reforms. They suggested that the fiscal costs of problem gambling be recognised in regulatory changes to be introduced amid the review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with a white paper expected to be published this week.

They said clear screening diagnostics for problem gambling should be included in the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) and that the Gambling Commission should have a remit for large-scale data collection in areas such as the link between problem gambling and affected others and with suicide.

It also said that more in-depth studies were required to help understand the societal impacts of problem gambling.

The study was carried out by the NIESR research team of Arnab Bhattacharjee, Peter Dolton, Max Mosley, and Adrian Pabst, using data sets from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) and the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS).

Last week, the Gambling Commission reported back on the second stage of an experimental trial of the new format for its gambling prevalence survey, led by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

The second stage of the project saw NatCen make more tests to refine the survey’s methodology and content. Two experiments tested the content and sampling. The first tested the survey’s household selection and the presentation of harms statements while the second was a split sample experiment designed to find the “optimum approach” for the number of adults per household invited to take part.

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