Oxford study finds biggest gamblers bet 58% of income

The study suggested high levels of gambling were associated with a 37 per cent increase in mortality.
The study suggested high levels of gambling were associated with a 37 per cent increase in mortality.

A study from the University of Oxford suggests a link between higher levels of gambling and unemployment and mortality rates. 

UK.- A study from the University of Oxford’s Department of Social Policy and Intervention has found that the top 1 per cent of gamblers deposit on average 58 per cent of their income.

The study also suggested a link between gambling and financial problems, risk of unemployment and social isolation, and even mortality rates.

See also: British regulator creates permanent panel on gambling harm

Led by the department’s Dr Naomi Muggleton, the study claims to be the largest of its kind. It analysed the banking transactions of more than 100,000 gamblers who banked with Lloyd’s Banking Group during 2018. 

The mean average annual net deposit was £1,345. The median average was £125, suggesting results were skewed by a small number of exceptionally high spenders.

Gambling linked to unemployment and higher mortality rates

It found that higher levels of gambling had a link with increased borrowing, with “A  10 percentage  point  increase  in  absolute  gambling  spend  is  associated  with  an  increase  in  payday  loan  uptake  by  51.5 per cent and the likelihood of missing a mortgage payment by 97.5 per cent.”

It also found an association between high levels of gambling and the risk of future unemployment and even physical disability.

Muggleton said: “To me, the striking finding is the extent to which even low levels of gambling are associated with harm.

“For many years, there has been a focus on outcomes among the most extreme gamblers.

“Our work shows that financial distress, social ills, and poorer health are more prevalent among low level gamblers.”

See also: PWC study: illegal gambling in Britain more than doubles

The report suggested that high levels of gambling were associated with a 37 per cent increase in mortality, although the authors clarified that they could not say whether the link was causal.

Muggleton said: “It’s unclear whether gambling causes negative outcomes, or whether already vulnerable people are disproportionately targeted by bookmakers, for example through advertising and locating betting shops in impoverished neighbourhoods.

“Either of these relationships is worrying and could have implications for public health policies.”

The report also looked at players’ history and found that many of the higher-depositing players rapidly increased their spend.

It said: “We  find  that,  for  example,  three   years  earlier  around  half  of  the  highest-spending  gamblers were already gambling heavily, while only six months before, over 6.9 per cent of these heavy gamblers were not gambling at all, highlighting the fast acceleration with which some individuals can transition into heavy gambling.”

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