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Gambling behaviour in England and Scotland

29 April 2014

The data contained in the Scottish Health Survey and the Health Survey for England (2012) (opens in new tab) has been combined to provide a view of gambling participation and problem gambling that is representative of England and Scotland together.

The data shows that 65% of adults (around 31 million people) in England and Scotland gambled in the past year. Excluding those who gamble only on the National Lottery draw, the figure is 43%.

The rate of problem gambling in the adult population is estimated to be 0.5% on one measure and 0.4% on the other measure used.

Patterns of gambling participation indicate that the most popular forms of gambling are still the National Lottery, scratch cards, other lotteries and betting on horse racing. This is in line with the British Gambling Prevalence Surveys (BGPS), which provided similar data up until 2010.

In terms of problem gambling; prevalence appears to be higher amongst younger men and amongst those who had participated in seven or more activities in the past year.

While firm trend figures will not be available until data is collected from future health surveys, patterns of decline in participation in gambling have also been seen in data collected through the Gambling Commission omnibus survey.

This headline report will be followed during the summer with a more detailed analysis of the data from the two surveys.

Rebekah Eden, the Commission’s Programme Director - Evidence and Analysis, said: “It appears that fewer people are gambling but there are still distinct groups that experience problems with their gambling or are at risk. Gambling operators need to do more to identify those players more likely to be engaged in harmful gambling behaviour and find ways of targeting help and support.”

Note to editors

  1. The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the public interest alongside its co-regulators local licensing authorities. It does so by keeping crime out of gambling, by ensuring that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and by protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Subject to these overriding public protection objectives, as regulator of the National Lottery the Commission monitors and challenges Camelot to raise the maximum amount for good causes. The Commission also provides independent advice to government on gambling in Britain.
  2. The Commission and local licensing authorities are responsible for licensing and regulating all gambling in Great Britain other than spread betting, which is the responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (opens in new tab).
  3. See the Terms & Conditions section of our website for information on legal advice (opens in new tab).

For all media enquiries, please contact the Gambling Commission press office.

Last updated: 13 June 2024

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