UK Health Survey confirms drop in problem gambling rate

The survey found a slight decrease in the problem gambling rate.
The survey found a slight decrease in the problem gambling rate.

NHS Health Survey for England suggests the problem gambling rate fell slightly to 0.4 per cent.

UK.- The NHS Health Survey for England (HSE) has released the second part of its survey for 2021, and it confirms a downward trend for problem gambling in the country. Conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the survey found a problem gambling rate of 0.5 per cent for January 2021 to March 2022.

That rate is down very slightly from 0.5 per cent in the previous survey in 2018 and is in line with the rate of 0.3 per cent reported in the Gambling Commission’s last telephone survey conducted in March of this year.

The NHS statistical survey focuses only on England. Although the wider survey is carried out every year, it only includes gambling harm on an irregular basis. The data for the latest report was collected from 3,700 people between January 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

The problem gambling rate among men, measured against the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) and DSM-IV scores, fell from 0.8 per cent in 2018 to 0.6 per cent. For women, it fell from 0.3 per cent to 0.1 per cent.

The drop is very slight and probably not meaningful, especially since there was also a change in methodology, with in-person fieldwork replaced by telephone interviews due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many land-based gambling venues were also closed during part of the period in question.

However, the industry lobby group, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), said the findings were further evidence that problem gambling remained low, supporting the government’s decision to apply “frictionless” affordability checks rather than more intrusive methods.

Chief executive Michael Dugher said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

New Gambling Survey for Great Britain

From November, the Gambling Commission will be reporting on gambling participation using a new Gambling Survey for Great Britain, which will use a methodology developed by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). The new survey was piloted last May and was approved by the regulator despite concerns that it may oversample problem gamblers.

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