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National Strategic Assessment 2020

This report sets out our latest assessment of the issues we face and the risks that gambling poses to consumers and the public

  1. Contents
  2. The person gambling
  3. The person gambling - Customer affordability

The person gambling - Customer affordability

Individuals spending more than they can afford to lose is one of the harms most associated with gambling. Harm can be significant even at low spending levels as the level of spend at which harms begin to occur depends on the consumer’s discretionary income. Licensees are not sufficiently equipped to support and, in some cases, protect consumers to mitigate against the risk of gambling beyond their means.

The following table provides the levels of discretionary income using YouGov survey data. Discretionary income is how much an individual has left at the end of the month after accounting for taxes, bills, food and accommodation. The table is based on population level data.

Percentage of discretionary income by age (January 2020)

Table of percentage of discretionary income by age (January 2020)
Amount All 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
Nothing 9% 10% 7% 9% 11% 9%
Less than £125 25% 31% 20% 25% 26% 25%
£125 to £249 20% 21% 20% 19% 19% 21%
£250 to £499 19% 15% 23% 20% 19% 19%
£500 to £999 16% 15% 18% 16% 15% 15%
£1,000 to £1,999 9% 7% 10% 9% 8% 9%
Over £2,000 2% 1% 1% 2% 3% 3%

Another source of data is provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on disposable household income, combined with information on living costs and spending.

According to the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings:

  • median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees is £585
  • the occupation group with the highest median weekly earnings for full time employees is still managers, directors and senior officials for which median gross weekly earnings has increased is £862
  • based on this data, 50% of full-time employees in the UK receive less than £30,500 gross earning per year and 50% of the full-time managers, directors and senior officials in the UK receive less than £45,000 gross earnings.

The following case studies which have all resulted in regulatory action, demonstrate the ineffective control frameworks used to identify and manage the risk. Common issues include interventions not happening in a timely way with customers flagged as needing an interaction, but this not happening until the next day, or later, after the customer had spent life-changing sums of money.

Threshold levels for review continue to be set at levels that do not take account of the affordability of a typical consumer. As illustrated by the income data, gambling activity at these levels over the periods of time reviewed would be clearly unaffordable for all but the very wealthiest individuals.

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The person gambling - What are the issues?
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The person gambling - Case studies - Clearly unaffordable gambling
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