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Evidence theme 2 - The range and variability of gambling experiences

Evidence theme 2 - The range and variability of gambling experiences

This theme is about:

  • understanding the different experiences that people have with gambling – every gambler is different
  • acknowledging how gambling fits into people’s lives and overlaps with other behaviours and experiences
  • exploring consumer journeys and motivations
  • how gambling habits and behaviours change over time.

Gambling participation figures estimate that over 23 million people engaged in some form of gambling activity in the last four weeks. The majority of these people gamble without experiencing harms. Our research to understand why people gamble found that most people gamble to win money and that enjoyment is prevalent, but secondary.

Our role as a regulator is to licence and regulate the gambling industry and this includes a requirement to protect children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling. The focus of a large proportion of the research into gambling activities has been on those experiencing gambling-related harms, and the need for ongoing research in these areas is reflected in some of the other themes. Within this theme, we highlight the need to better understand the range of gambling experiences, including positive consequences of gambling, reflecting the range of our regulatory duties.

Previous Commission research has identified gambling typologies and the Path to Play which helps to highlight the range of influences – but they also highlight that experiences are not the same for all people. It is important to continue to build on this model to understand policy interventions at different steps along this path by hearing from a range of voices.

A greater understanding of low risk, as well as high risk play could be beneficial. We know that people move in and out of gambling-related harm (discussed further as part of the gateway products theme), but it may be helpful to know more about the range and variability of experiences, how they contribute to harmful gambling behaviours and any common indicators that could help others.

It is also valuable to understand the aspects of gambling that can be improved from a regulatory perspective that ensure gambling remains fair and open for everyone. This could include identification and consideration of the ‘average’ consumer, and their views and priorities on various topics, including – for example – bonus offers and their understanding of products to make informed consumer choices.

There are a wide range of potential questions within this theme, and it’s likely that it will need a mixture of data sources to explore them, with qualitative research necessary to understand gambling experiences and quantitative research to better understand the scale of those experiences. Access to a wide range of anonymised datasets could offer the opportunity to see accurate play information and interaction between products within a gambling operator.

Example research questions within this theme

These are the type of questions that could be considered in relation to this theme:

  • What do we know about the spectrum of gambling activity and what constitutes 'safe' gambling?
  • How does gambling fit into a gambler's wider online activity or life?
  • How and why do people’s gambling habits and behaviours change over time?

Evidence theme 2 - What the Gambling Commission will focus on

To better understand the range and variability of gambling experiences, the Commission will focus on:

  • using the new Gambling Survey for Great Britain to improve our understanding of gambling participation at a national level and in sub-groups of interest
  • building on our work on consumer journeys, by zooming in to key parts of the Path to Play framework to add depth and insight
  • developing strong foundations for future research, for example establishing recontact samples for longitudinal research.

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Evidence theme 1 - Early gambling experiences and gateway products
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Evidence theme 3 - Gambling-related harms and vulnerability
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