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Gambling participation in 2019: behaviour, awareness and attitudes

A report providing an overview of consumer gambling behaviour in Great Britain in 2019

Problem and at-risk gambling

Problem gambling is defined as behaviour related to gambling which causes harm to the gambler and those around them15. This may include family, friends and others who know them or care for them. This section presents the official statistics on the prevalence of problem gambling, taken from the Health Survey England 2018, conducted by NHS Digital and released in December 2019. This is the only survey in England where both the full PGSI screen and the DSM-IV are used as the main measures of problem gambling. Data for Wales 2018 is not currently available, although will be released in 2020. Gambling questions were not included on the Health Survey for Scotland in 2018, so data will not be available for this year.

In addition, the Commission also tracks problem gambling data using its telephone survey, which acts as a more regular and up to date measure for identifying any changes in problem gambling trends. The telephone survey uses a short-form Problem Gambling Severity Index16 (PGSI mini-screen), which is formed of three questions instead of the full nine. Respondents are then categorised by their total score as either a problem gambler, moderate-risk gambler, low-risk gambler, or non-problem gambler. Telephone survey data on problem gambling is also included.

The Health Survey provides the Commission's most robust estimates of problem and at-risk gambling due to the use of a high quality random probability sampling approach, a large sample size and the availability of both PGSI and DSM-IV screens. This section of the report therefore presents the main measure of problem gambling rates.

Health Survey estimates

According to the latest Health Survey figures (England 2018), 2.7% of adults were considered low-risk gamblers, and a further 0.8% were classed as moderate-risk gamblers. By low-risk, we mean gamblers who experience a low level of problems with few or no identified negative consequences. For moderate-risk we mean gamblers who experience a moderate level of problems leading to some negative consequences.

The data shows that 0.5% of respondents were classified as problem gamblers (gamblers who gamble with negative consequences and a possible loss of control). This is stable compared to the 2016 England figure (0.7%).

Figure 9: Low-risk, moderate-risk and problem gamblers in England 2018 (according to the DSM-IV or PGSI) (NHS Digital, 2019; n=6,927)

Low-risk, moderate-risk and problem gamblers in England 2018

Data from figure 9

  • 2.7% Low-risk gambling - (according to the full PGSI)
  • 0.8% Moderate-risk gambling - (according to the full PGSI)
  • 0.5% Problem gamblers - (according to the full PGSI or DSM-IV)

Quarterly telephone survey estimates

The Commission’s regular telephone survey, which uses the PGSI mini-screen reported the low-risk rate to be 2.7% and the moderate-risk rate to be 1.2%. The problem gambling rate was 0.6%, however, as noted above, the Health Surveys should be considered the most robust source of statistics on problem and at-risk gambling.

Table 3: Low-risk, moderate-risk and problem gamblers (according to the PGSI mini-screen) (Telephone Survey; n=4,003)

Low-risk, moderate-risk and problem gamblers (according to the PGSI mini-screen) (2019)
All respondents (n=4,003) Year to December 2019 (%)
Low risk 2.7
Moderate-risk 1.2
Problem gambler 0.6


15 GambleAware (opens in new tab)

16 Developing a Short Form of the PGSI (Volberg, 2012)

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Gambling participation in 2019: Gambling participation
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Gambling participation in 2019: Online gambling behaviour
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