Nearly three quarters of adults in Britain gamble
Date: 15 February 2011
More people are taking part in gambling according to an
independent report published today by the Gambling Commission
showing that nearly three quarters of adults (73%) gambled in the
previous year, up from 68% in 2007. The vast majority of gamblers
say they take part “because it’s fun” and “for the chance of
winning big money”. The British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2010
shows that the British public take part in a wide range of
activities with still only a relatively small proportion gambling
The measures of problem gambling in the report also show an
increase in the number of problem gamblers in Britain, though the
authors note it is not possible to say whether this represents an
upward trend or a temporary fluctuation (see note 1). The
proportions increased from 0.5% of the adult population in 2007 to
0.7% in 2010 (which is not statistically significant) on one
measure and from 0.6% in 2007 to 0.9% in 2010 (which is at the
margins of statistical significance) on the other measure used (see
notes). These rates are similar to those in other European
countries (Germany, Norway and Switzerland) where this has been
measured and are lower than countries like the USA, Australia and
This latest report is the third in a series which provide data
on participation in gambling, the prevalence of problem gambling
and attitudes towards gambling. It is the first major survey
on the prevalence of gambling in Great Britain to be completed
since the Gambling Act 2005 came into force in 2007 and was carried
out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).
“The survey confirms that there are a significant and growing
number of people who take part in gambling“, said Brian Pomeroy,
the Gambling Commission’s Chairman.
“However, it also indicates that a small, but probably growing,
proportion of the population have serious problems with their
gambling. This reinforces our determination to see that gambling
regulation continues to both minimise the risk to those individuals
and ensure that the majority of people can continue to gamble
Baroness Neuberger, the Chair of both the Responsible Gambling
Strategy Board* and the Responsible Gambling Fund*,
“To find out which treatment and prevention programmes really work
we need a better understanding of how to reduce the harm
experienced by problem gamblers and how to help them. This
means the industry needs to meet agreed fundraising targets to pay
for these programmes plus the supporting research”.
The full survey is available on the Gambling Commission’s website.
Notes to editors
- 1. Please see the report for a full explanation of
the caveats around the change in problem gambling
- 2. Two internationally recognised
tools were used to measure problem gambling - the ‘DSM-IV’ and the
Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Both of these screening
tools were used in the 2007 survey which allows direct comparison.
The PGSI was introduced into the 2007 survey to replace the South
Oaks Gambling Screen which was used alongside the DSM IV in 1999.
DSM-IV stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American
Psychiatric Association, 4th edition.
- 3. Comparisons to other jurisdictions show Britain has a
problem gambling rate similar to Norway (0.8%), Germany (0.6%) and
Switzerland (0.8%), and lower than the USA (3.5%), Australia
(between 1.4% - 2.1%) and South Africa (1.4%), (comparisons should
be treated with caution, as different methodologies have been used
in different countries and some results are from older
- 4. Problem gambling, measured as a percentage of adults shows
that, with the DSM IV screen, prevalence of problem gambling was
higher in 2010 (0.9%) than 2007 and 1999 (0.6% in both
years). This finding was statistically significant though the
results showed that it was at the margins of statistical
significance. The second tool, the PGSI screen, showed a lower
level with around 0.7% of the adult population being affected in
2010 against 0.6 % in 2007. This finding is not statistically
- 5. The number of individuals (aged 16 years and over)
interviewed was 7,756 and interviews took an
average time of 15 minutes.
- 6. NatCen (the National Centre for
Social Research) is a not-for-profit independent social research
organisation, dedicated to promoting a better informed society
through high quality social research.
- 7. The BGPS was peer reviewed by Professor Dean Gerstein of
Claremont Graduate University, California and by Professor John
Strang of King’s College, London.
- 8. Advanced access was granted to the following bodies on 14
February: Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department of
Health, the Scottish Government, National Lottery Commission and
the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board
- 9. The Gambling Act 2005 places social responsibility
requirements on British-based gambling operators who are also
required to contribute to research, education and treatment of
problem gamblers. Requirements include: training staff to recognise
and deal with problem gambling; implementing policies for
interacting with customers who appear to have a gambling problem;
prominently displaying where help can be found by those who need
it; enabling players on the internet to keep control by setting
limits on their stakes; and providing for self-exclusion from
gambling premises for players who seek it.
- 10.The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the public
interest alongside its co-regulators local licensing authorities.
It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that
gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children
and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
The Commission also provides independent advice to government on
gambling in Britain.
- 11. The Commission and local licensing authorities
are responsible for licensing and regulating all gambling in
Great Britain other than the National Lottery and spread betting,
which are the responsibility of the National Lottery Commission and
the Financial Services Authority (FSA) respectively.
- 12.* The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board
(RGSB) advises the Gambling Commission on research, education
and treatment programmes needed to support a national responsible
gambling strategy and associated funding requirements. The
Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF) is a charity that distributes the
funds raised by the industry to support gambling research,
education and treatment. The RGSB made recommendations on the
levels of voluntary funding required from the industry in its
initial strategy document of October 2009 (2010 - £5m, 2011 - £6m,
2012 - £7m).
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