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What do we know about vulnerability in the gambling context?

Understanding vulnerability and gambling harms is key to the Gambling Commission's approach. Problem gambling screens are useful tools and have in recent years been the prominent approach to identifying gambling harms and vulnerability.

The Commission recognises though that these issues are complex and multifaceted, and that we need a fuller understanding of the wide-ranging harms that some gamblers experience, but also the wider impact that gambling can have on affected others, communities, and wider society.

In 2020 we started piloting a new set of survey questions designed to understand the incidence, nature and severity of harm experienced by gamblers and non-gamblers. The questions form part of a new methodology for collecting participation and prevalence of problem gambling statistics. Building our approach to evidence in ways such as this enables the Commission to strive for an overall picture of harms rather than just a count of the number of problem gamblers in the population.

The Commission uses its own data, and data from other sources, to ensure that it has a robust understanding of risk factors and vulnerabilities which might cause consumers to be at greater risk of gambling harm. We consider a range of factors, such as:

  • demographics
  • socio economic circumstances
  • health and wellbeing indicators
  • gambling behaviour (for example, number of gambling activities participated in).

We know that adults may be in a vulnerable situation at any age, but young adults may be particularly vulnerable to gambling related harms due to a combination of biological, situational and environmental factors.

Our research on exploring the gambling journeys of young people shows that young adults are most at risk of falling into problem gambling around the age of 20 to 21 years, as they adjust to new freedoms such as moving out of home and managing their own finances.

The Commission also undertakes in depth work around other key groups of interest, such as women and understanding their experiences of gambling, and gambling behaviours among Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

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Vulnerability statement - What do we mean by vulnerability?
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Vulnerability statement - How we embed vulnerability within our regulatory approach
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