The NHS has recently unveiled a report analysing gambling participation and problem gambling in the UK, shedding light on a subject that continues to fuel discussions around the future of the country’s gambling regulations.
Unravelling the Statistics
The NHS reports that around 0.3% of the UK population engages in problem gambling, with 2.8% sitting in the at-risk category. This statistic echoes the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) findings of a problem gambling rate of 0.2% in February 2023.
The NHS data provides an important insight: individuals who gambled on four or more types in the past year demonstrated a significant rise in at-risk or problem gambling. These individuals, comprising 27.8% of the surveyed population, were more likely to struggle with gambling problems than those who engaged in two to three types (4.6%) or just one type of gambling (1.6%).
Patterns in Gambling Participation
In the past year, half of the individuals aged 16 and over surveyed admitted to some form of gambling, with National Lottery draws taking the top spot. Meanwhile, 8% placed bets on sports and 5% on horse racing.
Aside from the lottery, a sizeable 36% of respondents dabbled in other gambling activities. Those who engaged in non-lottery gambling activities faced greater risks, with 7.9% falling into the at-risk or problem gambling category. Other forms of gambling like casinos and online slots, however, registered less than 5% participation.
The report underscored a concerning trend: 18.2% of online gamblers were classified as at-risk or problem gamblers, spotlighting the potential dangers linked to online gambling activities.
Variations by Demographics
The report reveals that 55% of men gamble, outpacing women at 45%. In regional terms, the North East leads with 59% of adults gambling, while the South West trails at 41%.
As for age, gambling participation increases with age, hitting a high of 61% among those aged 45 to 54, but dipping to 45% for those 75 and older. Alarmingly, 39% of individuals aged 16 to 34 are engaged in gambling, a worrying fact given the 18 and above age restrictions on all UK betting products.
Implications for Regulation
As the Gambling Act review continues, the NHS report’s findings will inevitably stir discussions on the necessary measures to protect the public, especially the youth. However, it remains to be seen how these statistics will shape future policy making.
“The prevalence of at-risk and problem gambling was higher still amongst gamblers who gambled online,” says the report, serving as a sobering reminder of the challenges facing the industry as it navigates the digital age.