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Gambling Prevalence Research: the view of Lived Experience

In May this year, members of the Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) met with the Gambling Commission’s Research and Statistics team, who are piloting a new method of gathering statistics on gambling participation and prevalence of gambling related harms.

Posted 18 October 2022 by Communications

Previously we’d been able to comment on the initial design of the research. We could see that there were significant improvements on existing approaches – improvements in questions, updated categorisations of gambling, and methodological developments to improve response rates. We particularly welcomed plans for a much larger sample size.

However, we did highlight some issues that we felt needed to be considered before moving to the next experimental phase.

Our main point was that we believe people suffering gambling harms would be both unlikely to engage with the survey, or would not be fully truthful in their answers. All of the recovering gamblers in the group indicated that this is what they would have done. Therefore, the degree of undercounting could be substantial. The issue of non-response and/or false responding is common across surveys, particularly those investigating ‘sensitive’ topics.

With this in mind, members of LEAP put forward a number of suggestions to help tackle this, including:

  • stronger approaches to guaranteeing anonymity
  • greater exploration of non-response – including a question for people to indicate why they decided not to take part and more active follow up of non-respondents
  • stronger and more explanatory wording to encourage people about the value of taking part
  • use of other data sources, including operator data, to ‘triangulate’ results
  • qualitative research to understand and estimate the impact and size of non-response and/or false responses.

We met again this month to discuss how the Research and Statistics team had been able to respond to these suggestions.

The team had made a variety of improvements based on our advice and provided expert advice about the limitations of dealing with non-response. We also had helpful discussions about the plans for using wider data sets, the work that is underway on measuring wider gambling related harms, and targeted work to understand gambling amongst 11 to 17 year olds – all of which LEAP will be able to advise on.

Importantly, we will also be involved in discussions with the Research and Statistics team and other stakeholders about how the results on prevalence and ‘problem gambling’ rates are presented, including what figures should be presented, what they can and cannot show, and the language used.

However, we remain concerned that survey-based work will inevitably provide an underestimate of the level of harm and we will continue to work with the Commission to explore how the best public understanding of gambling harms can be achieved.

The LEAP give advice to the Commission based on their experience of gambling harms.

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