UK Gambling Commission Reports Drop in Problem Gambling

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reported that the rate of problem gambling in the United Kingdom fell to 0.2 percent in Quarter 4 of 2022, meaning the lowest figure on record. The Gambling Commission’s quarterly participation and problem gambling survey found that problem gambling levels fell to 0.2 per cent which is the lowest figure on record since the survey began in 2016.

The Gambling Commission reports an overall decline in the number of problem gamblers in the United Kingdom. A phone survey showed that the number of players with a gambling problem has decreased by 0.1 percent. In December 2022, 0.2 percent of active players in the UK had a gambling problem, down from 0.3 percent in comparison with a year earlier.

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British Gambling Participation

In the low risk category, the British regulator sees some stability with a total of 1.7 percent of British players. On the other hand, the study reveals that the group in the moderate risk category saw a significant increase compared to the previous year. In December 2021, 0.8 percent of respondents were categorised in this group, a year later the number has risen to 1.3 percent. The research further shows that the number of participants in a gambling activity in the last four weeks of 2022 increased slightly, with 44 percent of those surveyed having participated in gambling compared to 43 percent the year before. Out of the gambling participants, 27 percent of the respondents stated to do this in an online casino or with an online bookmaker —  both of which are legalised in the United Kingdom.

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The National Lottery Most Popular Gambling Product

The National Lottery remained the most popular gambling product by far, with participation of 26.5 per cent. Despite the slight increase of betting activities, the gambling industry is not yet back to where it was before the corona pandemic. A total of 4,001 respondents aged 16 or older participated in the phone survey. The interview was conducted in December 2022, following previous interviews in March, June, and September.

Michael Dugher, CEO of industry association Betting & Gaming Council, commented on the outcome of the investigation:

“These recently released figures are further evidence of the positive progress we have made on safer gambling and underline our urgent call on ministers to base the forthcoming white paper on facts. These figures, which show that problem gambling has once again declined in the United Kingdom, will undoubtedly come as a deep disappointment to anti-gambling prohibition experts, who like to exaggerate the problem.”

Michael Dugher, CEO Betting & Gaming Council

He adds:

“Their alarming demands are not supported by the evidence. We want big changes, but they need to be aimed at this small minority who are vulnerable – not the vast majority who are gambling responsibly. We need a risk-based approach that helps the vulnerable and does not ruin the experience of the responsible majority.”

Michael Dugher, CEO Betting & Gaming Council

Dugher was also very clear towards the ministers involved in the new betting bill. He believes that politics should not drive players into the arms of the illegal offer. Dugher refers to what he calls the “intrusive affordability checks” for all gamblers. Several other politicians have harshly criticised the betting industry regulatory body for forcing casinos and bookmakers to ask for customers’ private financial information to allow them to play.

UK White Paper Still Not Available

The United Kingdom is still waiting for the publication of the long-awaited white paper. Initially, the white paper was to be published in the summer of 2022, but since that announcement the process has already been delayed several times. The then minister in charge of the portfolio of (online) gambling, Paul Scully, stated in January 2023 that the Gambling Act would be coming very soon, but Scully has since left his post. Former sports minister Stuart Andrew succeeded Scully and is already the sixth minister to hold this position since 2020, when the reform of the Gambling Act was first announced. The white paper was part of the Conservative Party’s campaign promise back in 2019.

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