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Image showing Helen Bryce, Gambling Commission's Head of Statistics

The experimental statistics phase: Gambling participation and prevalence project

The Gambling Commission recently held its first ‘Setting the Evidence Agenda’ Conference on 9 March.

Posted 19 April 2023 by Helen Bryce

The conference brought together leading stakeholders from research, academia, industry, our own advisory bodies and the third sector to discuss how we can help to close the gaps in the knowledge we have about gambling and those who gamble in Great Britain.

During the conference, the Gambling Commission hosted a collaboration session with over 50 attendees about the new approach we are developing for collecting data on adult gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling. This will be called the Gambling Survey for Great Britain. We shared some of the findings from the experimental stage of the research and held round table discussions to discuss how the results from the survey would be used by stakeholders to inform the next stage of the project.

The headline findings from the experimental stage that were shared by the Commission and NatCen were as follows.

Experiment 1 - Household selection and presentation of harms statements

This experiment was designed to test whether we should invite 2 or up to 4 adults per household to take part in the survey, and whether this would lead to any clustering of gambling behaviours amongst those who responded.

Following the pilot survey and external review of the gambling related harms questions that the Commission has been developing, this experiment also tested different response options for the harms questions from binary yes/no responses to scaled responses.

Experiment 2 - Participation questions

This experiment tested three approaches for asking about gambling participation to test the best way of determining the types of gambling activities that people take part in. Examples of these questionnaires were put on the tables around the room for participants to have a look at and are available as appendices in the experimental statistics stage report.

The full Gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey: Experimental statistics stage report can be found on our website.

Following a presentation, the session moved to round table discussions led by a facilitator from the Commission on each table. The following three topics were discussed.

1. How will you use the results from the new Gambling Survey for Great Britain?

Participants spoke about various ways they will use the results from the survey to inform their work including using the findings to inform treatment needs, to understand provision requirements for specific demographic groups, for secondary analysis and to evaluate policies and interventions. There was also interest in being able to undertake longitudinal research by recontacting survey respondents.

Participants were particularly interested in the results which showed participation by gambling activity and results of the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) by gambling activity.

Some participants were concerned that the survey did not contain enough questions about what people enjoy about gambling and the benefits that may be associated with gambling.

2. Presentation of findings

Participants thought the presentation of Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) results both as a percentage of the total population and as a percentage of gamblers would be useful.

One table suggested that PGSI results should be presented in a way that is consistent with what is done internationally.

Participants were interested in being able to see the results for individual PGSI statements and harms statements.

Some participants asked the Commission to be clear about the strengths and weaknesses of the push to web methodology and any associated limitations in future publications.

3. Accessing results

Participants would like access to the results in a variety of ways including raw data, infographics and reports.

Next Steps

The feedback provided as part of the collaboration session will be considered by the project team as the project progresses to the next stage.

Some participants also expressed an interest in joining the stakeholder engagement groups for the Gambling Survey for Great Britain, and the Commission will be in touch with those stakeholders shortly.

About the author

Helen Bryce is the Gambling Commission's Head of Statistics

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